May Laith Al-Taee. A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in Management

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1 The Role of Social Networking Tools in Facilitating Knowledge Management and Sharing Processes at the UAE Municipalities: Opportunities and Challenges. by May Laith Al-Taee A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in Management Birmingham Business School University of Birmingham June 2013

2 University of Birmingham Research Archive e-theses repository This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.

3 ABSTRACT This thesis contributes to knowledge-based view literature by proposing a novel approach to the integration of two key perspectives in knowledge management: the objectivist and practice-based perspectives. This integration can provide the basis for the adoption and use of information and communication technology (ICT) tools for the sharing and integration of knowledge. This integrative approach is aligned with the knowledge-based view of the firm and can provide valuable opportunities for the transfer of knowledge. The objectivist perspective has thus met with limited success due to the inherent difficulty in codifying knowledge, particularly as it relates to strategies for the effective transfer of knowledge within organisations. On the other hand, the practice-based perspective continues to develop but has not yet reached a maturity level to justify its use on a large scale. Neither one of these two perspectives alone is able to deal with the challenges of transferring and integrating knowledge. The recent knowledge management literature has emphasised the importance of interactive knowledge management technologies, which have manifested themselves in the form of social networking tools in bringing the human side into the knowledge management equation. It is argued that such technologies have distinct features that encourage knowledge sharing, social interaction, and user participation. Yet, very little is known on the benefits, challenges and the factors leading to its successful implementation within organisations. This case study examines the introduction of social networking tools in the UAE municipalities and identifies the dynamics of implementing these tools for knowledge management. This in turn enabled the development of a set of ICT features that are in-line with the requirements of the knowledge-based view of the firm and are essential to facilitate an integrated perspective to knowledge management. These features can be tested in future studies and utilised to provide the foundation for the selection and use of ICT for knowledge management.

4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Mere words of thanks cannot fully express my gratitude towards my two advisors, Professor Véronique Ambrosini and Dr. Rory Donnelly. They have full-heartedly supported me and my research in every step of the way. Both of them exemplify the best of the benevolent, wise, and diligent scholars. Their contribution to my thesis cannot be overstated, I would like to thank them for their comments, critiques and insights that have helped me develop my ideas into a fruitful and complete dissertation. I am honoured to have them as my advisors and I have learned from them a great deal. My deepest gratitude also goes to my parents who have instilled in me the value of education and high ambitions, for educating me about good values, character and for giving me a good habit of never giving up. My gratitude also goes to my brother Auday who overwhelmed me with his kind spirit and easy going nature, my brother Nasr for surrounding me with his humour, they both kept me going through the hardest times. I would also like to thank my sister for always keeping me company throughout this process and reminding me to see the light in the end of the tunnel. I thank my boss, Dean Leon Jololian for insistently pushing me and my work toward excellence. He always holds an open door for me and my last-minute panic drop-ins. His unconditional guidance, encouragement and support kept me going forward. He instilled in me a kind of confidence that is not swayed by difficulty or doubt. Thank you for all the fruitful discussions and for believing in me. I wish to also express my appreciation to my family both, immediate and extended, and friends. They have always been a good source of ideas, inspiration, strength, and humour. It is to them all that I dedicate this thesis.

5 Table of Contents Introduction... 1 Chapter 2 The Knowledge-Based View of the Firm... 9 Origins of the Knowledge-Based View of the Firm... 9 From the Resource-Based View to the Knowledge-Based View of the Firm The knowledge-based view of the firm Chapter 3- Nature of Knowledge and Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice Alternative Views of Knowledge Different Types of Knowledge Declarative or Procedural Knowledge Explicit or Tacit Knowledge General or Specific Knowledge Introducing Knowledge Management Forces Driving Knowledge Management Developing a knowledge management strategy Knowledge Management Cycle and the Knowledge Spiral Model Knowledge Discovery Knowledge Capture Knowledge Sharing Knowledge Application Knowledge Management Infrastructure Organisational Culture Organisation Structure Information Technology Infrastructure Common Knowledge Physical Environment Determining the Impact of Knowledge Management Initiatives Knowledge Management in the Arab Region and the Case of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) Knowledge Management Current Status, Limitations and Challenges Chapter 4- Information and Communication Technologies and Knowledge Management Characterizing Information and Communication Technology Supported Knowledge Management processes Objectivist Perspective... 67

6 Practice-based perspective Implementation of Information and Communication Technology Based Knowledge Management Systems An alternative design philosophy The Evolution of the Web and its Impact on Knowledge Management Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management Perceived Positives and Negatives of Enterprise Enterprise 2.0 Challenges and Opportunities Research Gap, Significance and Objectives Chapter 5- Research Methodology and Method Research Philosophy Research Questions and Case Study Research Design Determining the Unit of Analysis Scope of the Case Qualitative / Quantitative Case Study Determining the Type of Case Study Single or Multiple Case Study Designs The Case Study Organisation Overview Introduction About DMA DMA and Knowledge Management Musharaka Knowledge Management Framework Musharaka Communities of Practice The Pilot Case Study Data Sources and Collection Analysing Qualitative Studies and Case Study Data Ensuring Credibility and Quality in Case Study Research Data Analysis Process A priori themes and preliminary coding Initial template Modifying the template Inserting a new theme Deleting a theme Changing the scope of a theme Changing the higher order classification The final template

7 The interpretation and Presentation of the Template Analysis Chapter 6 - Results and Findings Musharaka Framework Stage of Implementation Social Networking Tools at the Core of the Musharaka Framework Social Networking tools for Knowledge Management and Employee Job Effectiveness Social Networking Tools and a Collective Platform for Problem Solving Social Networking tools and reducing organisation resource wastage and reinventing the wheels Social Networking tools and the Aggregation of Information in an efficient, easy to retrieve and share manner Social Networking Tools and Locating Expertise Social Networking tools encouraging a culture of sharing and increasing job motivation Factors Influencing Employees Decision on whether to use Social Networking Tools for Knowledge Management (or not) Ease of Use Demanding Schedule or use in an unproductive manner Validity of the content Security of the Platform Rewards System Managerial Support Organisational Culture and Structure Conclusion Chapter 7 Discussion and Conclusions Introduction Integrating the Objectivist and Practice-based perspectives to the Management and Sharing of Knowledge Overview Social Networking Tools and the Objectivist and Practice-based Perspectives of Managing and Sharing Knowledge at the Municipalities The Integrated Perspective to Knowledge Sharing and Management and the Knowledge-based view of the Firm Information and Communication Technologies for an Integrated Perspective to Knowledge Management and Sharing Social Networking Tools and the Process of Knowledge Sharing Initial Implementation Stage and Associated Challenges

8 5. Critical Factors for the Implementation of Social Networking Tools for Knowledge Management in the Municipalities Top Managers Commitment and Managerial presence in the social networking platform for knowledge management Alignment of the social networking tools to the day-to-day processes Policies and procedures to streamline the usage of social networking tools for knowledge management Incentivize the usage of social networking tools for knowledge management Target employees that will participate and enrich knowledge by utilizing the social networking tools available Awareness workshops and training on change management and social networking tools need to be established Adapt the organisational structure to the nature of the tools Establish a common platform for web technologies to operate in, start small, and then expand Conclusion Academic Contributions Practical Implications Limitations of the Study Future Research Appendix Examples of Policies and Procedures for Social Networking usage in organisations Appendix Interview Questions: Interview Questions to Consultants Appendix Appendix Appendix References

9 List of Illustrations Figure 1: Knowledge Management Processes Figure 2: Knowledge Spiral Model Figure 3: Increasing Information Richness? Figure 4: The Evolution of the Web Figure 5: Basic Types of Designs for a Case Study Figure 6: Musharaka Framework Main Components and Deliverables Figure 7: Benefits to Employees and DMA Figure 8: Role of Mouchel and the Team Figure 9: Main Components of Musharaka Figure 10: Musharakah Communities of Practice Figure 11: Musharaka Front Page Figure 12: Musharaka Social Network Community Tools Figure 13: Maintaining a Chain of Evidence Figure 14: Maintaining a Chain of Evidence Figure 15: Initial template Figure 16: Final Template Figure 17: Strategic, Organisational and Technical Tensions Figure 18: Social Networking Tools for Knowledge Management Enabling Factors

10 List of Tables Table 1: Competing epistemologies Table 2: Theoretical perspective related to the practice-based perspective Table 3: Comparison of Properties of Tacit Vs. Explicit Knowledge Table 4: Knowledge Management Tools Table 5: Enterprise 2.0 Social Networking Technologies Table 6: Research Question and Unit of Analysis Table 7: Types of Case Study Table 8: Case Study Research 6 sources of evidence: strengths and weaknesses Table 9: Participant Demographics Table 10: Abbreviations and Description Table 11: Knowledge Management Office Research Participants Labels Table 12: Knowledge Champion Research Participants Labels Table 13: Mouchel Consultants Research Participants Labels Table 14: Review of Case Study Data Analysis Methods Table 15: Priori themes and Descriptions Table 16: Summary of Expectations and Findings Table 17: KBV, Perspective and how was it facilitated at the municipalities Table 18: KBV mechanism, Perspective and how was it facilitated Table 19:Prerequisites for the evolution of tacit knowledge in organisations and how social networking tools enabled it at the Municipalities Table 20:Characteristics that distinguish successful organisations in capturing tacit knowledge Table 21: what was already known on the topic and what this study added to our knowledge

11 Introduction The knowledge-based view of the firm identifies knowledge as a valuable organisational asset that enables sustainable competitive advantage (Grant, 2002; Ipe, 2003). An organisation s ability to transfer knowledge between individuals and teams and to utilise that knowledge to achieve its goals and objectives is increasingly considered important in gaining a competitive advantage (Powell and Ambrosini, 2011). Many organisations are using information and communication technologies specifically to facilitate the diffusion and integration of knowledge (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). Nonetheless, organisations often do not reap the anticipated benefits from the implementation of information and communication technologies for knowledge management (Hahn and Wang, 2009). This could be attributed to organisations applying the objectivist perspective to implementing information and communication technologies for knowledge management (Hislop, 2005; Massey et al., 2002). The objectivist perspective relies heavily on the codification strategy of managing and sharing knowledge. It often does not provide enough consideration to the people, cultural and social aspects of the organisation (Butler and Murphy, 2007; Kuo and Lee, 2011). Some scholars have called for a more practice-based perspective to managing and sharing knowledge, one that focuses on the personalisation of knowledge (Hislop, 2005; Empsom, 2001; Suchman, 2003; Walsham, 2001). Yet, there is so much debate surrounding the practice-based perspective in terms of the richness of interaction (Goodall and Roberts, 2003; Roberts, 2000; Symon, 2000) and the prevalence of trust issues (Butler and Murphy, 2007; Roberts, 2000). There 1

12 is a general consensus that for information and communication technologies to succeed, a transformation in design philosophies is required to enable people to actively infer and construct meaning (Butler and Murphy, 2007; Hahn and Wang, 2009; Hislop, 2005; Paroutis and Saleh, 2009). There has been an increasing, recent interest in academic journals and organisations on the notion of Enterprise 2.0 (Bibikas, et al., 2009). It involves the application of social networking tools (e.g. wikis, blogs, RSS) within organisations or between organisations and their partners or customers (McAfee, 2006). The transformational role of social networking tools from previous forms of organisational contextures is implied by the decimal point included in the end of the term (Bibikas, et al., 2009). Nonetheless, doubt in terms of the capability for organisational transformation of social networking tools inside organisations has also been expressed (Bibikas, et al., 2009; Davenport, 2007; Stenmark, 2008). Can some of the basic social organisational constructions for instance individual, teams and units be affected by the implementation of such tools (Bibikas, et al., 2009)? Can the social networking tools facilitate the necessary interaction, collaboration and participation amongst individuals, teams and units and in return facilitate knowledge management and transfer in organisations, or are they just other disruptive technologies? In this thesis, I explore whether social networking tools can enhance knowledge management in an organisational context. The concept of Enterprise 2.0 and use of social networking tools in organisation has not only dominated the discourse surrounding information and communication technology applications, but also the associated managerial approaches (Bibikas, et al., 2009). As a result, there is an intense debate amongst researchers who argue that the term Enterprise 2.0 does 2

13 not have anything to provide except basic managerial aspects related to the use of generic networked business applications, while other researchers argue that Enterprise 2.0 promises something new: an adaptable and flexible approach to organisational knowledge management strategies (Bibikas, et al., 2009; Patrick and Dostika, 2007; McAfee, 2006). The first objective of this thesis is to examine the potential of social networking tools in facilitating the knowledge management processes and how are these tools currently being applied in an organisational context for knowledge management. Issues concerning the role of generic groupware technologies (e.g. , electronic bulletin boards, mobile communications and etc.) have dominated the knowledge management literature (Bhatt et al., 2005). Nonetheless, there are limited studies that examine the use of various social networking tools (including: blogs, wikis, RSS, tags, collaborative workspace and etc.) throughout the process of knowledge management that in return examine their effects, if any, on organisational dynamics (Bibikas, et al., 2009; Van Zyl, 2009). The second objective of this thesis is to determine the factors that influence the usage of social networking tools for knowledge management. A wide range of literature addresses the role of information and communication technologies in facilitating knowledge management processes. Nonetheless, and despite the fact that much has been written to argue the transformative role of social networking tools in organisations (Bibikas, et al., 2009), there is limited research that investigates the actual effect of applying these tools for knowledge management in organisations (Bibikas, et al., 2009; Patrick and Dostika, 2007; McAfee, 2006). A review of the literature applied since the introduction of social networking tools for knowledge management reveals that most of the current research papers are 3

14 conceptual or view point papers and current research emphasises what social networking is, how are they structured and why social networks exist (Van Zyl, 2009). However, studies that examine the implementation of social networking tools in organisations for knowledge management and sharing are limited (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009; Van Zyl, 2009). In addition, the majority of the research conducted on the value and opportunities of these tools are based upon private organisations such as: Gardner, Clearswift, IBM, KPMG and MessageLabs (Van Zyl, 2009). This research provides insights for theoretical development and empirical data from a government organisation setting and analyses if these social networking tools have the potential to provide something new to knowledge management and processes, inside the implementing organisation. Knowledge management has been identified as critical to government organisations to enable the management of public data, improve decision-making and to serve the public in an efficient and effective manner (Jashpara, 2011). Interaction, participation and transparency are often identified as key principles to achieving government knowledge management objectives (Dalkir, 2011). Arguably, social networking tools provide a transparent platform for interaction and participation to occur within and across organisations. Nonetheless, the number of studies addressing the potential of social networking tools in facilitating the knowledge management processes in government organisations is limited. This thesis examines the introduction of social networking tools for knowledge management across the UAE municipalities. There is a dearth in knowledge management literature and studies in the UAE context (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011; Boumarafi and Jabnoun, 2008). A recent review revealed no more than three studies. Furthermore, the UAE economy is heavily dependent on oil, hence it has 4

15 been identified that the government needs to work on diversifying the economic resources of the country by approaching development from a Knowledge Management perspective and adapting policies to increase know how and knowledge attributes that can improve people s lives in myriad ways. (World Bank Report, 1998/99, p. 77). As a result of the aforementioned and the recent economic crisis, knowledge development objectives have been embedded in the public policy agenda and the 2021 vision for the Government of Abu-Dhabi. Government entities in Abu-Dhabi were mandated to incorporate the latest knowledge management practices and tools contributing towards the vision of the government of Abu-Dhabi (to be one of the world s leading governments and to create a sustainable knowledge economy). The Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) took the lead and is the first government entity to launch a knowledge management framework in collaboration with Abu-Dhabi, AlAin and Western Zone municipalities. This case study deemed significant since knowledge management is a national strategic priority and given that the UAE is a leader in the adoption of the latest technologies. The framework that was implemented at the municipalities adopted the latest social networking tools available. Moreover, the framework, called Musharaka (translated from Arabic as Participation), is the first knowledge management framework to be launched across all government entities in Abu-Dhabi. If this pilot project was deemed successful it would be adopted by other government entities across the Emirate of Abu-Dhabi. Henceforth, a case study research design has been adopted and data was collected and analysed from different sources, including: 36 semi-structured interviews, documentation, archival records, and direct observation. The thesis examined the 5

16 implementation of six social networking tools that were implemented as part of Musharaka and they include: Collaborative Workspace, Blogs, Wikis, Newsletters, Discussion forums, Members list. Moreover, the study involved embedded social networking tools to the Musharaka framework, such as: tags, RSS and signals. As a result, there are three major findings that have emerged from this research. Firstly, the use of these particular interactive knowledge management technologies encompassed both the objectivist and practiced-based perspectives. While these two views are radically different and often have been used independently of each other (Hislop, 2005; Hansen et al., 1999), based on this case study, it can be argued that there are significant benefits that can be sought from integrating aspects of both views within a single framework. While much of the intangible knowledge points to the adoption of the practice-based perspective, some crucial knowledge leveraging elements, such as best practices, still need an objectivist perspective. Therefore, there is an actual need for a balanced integration of both perspectives. This is further justified by examining the principles of the knowledge-based view of the firm, and how these principles support an integrated approach to the implementation of information and communications technologies for knowledge management. The second finding highlights the fact that while the interactive technologies are able to facilitate the sharing of much of the explicit knowledge communicated; it is shown that these technologies are making a positive impact in sharing some tacit knowledge as well. This finding is significant because the knowledge-based view theory emphasises the importance of knowledge sharing to achieve competitive advantage (Grant, 2002). In return, scholars and organisations are constantly striving to find means to facilitate the knowledge sharing process, particularly tacit 6

17 knowledge that is valuable but given its nature is difficult to articulate (see chapter 2 and 3). Finally, the third finding strongly suggests that implementing the interactive knowledge management technologies in organisations is a gradual process and that there are key enabling factors that need to be present for them to prosper in the organisation. This is contrary to what have been identified in the literature, describing these technologies as pervasive and expecting that they will make their way into organisations rapidly (Sinclair, 2007; Martin et al., 2009; Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008). As a result of the findings, the key enabling factors were outlined, in addition to the implications on the research and practice of knowledge management were identified. The thesis is divided into eight chapters. Some necessary theoretical foundations are covered, starting with the knowledge-based view that describes the change in economies and the implications of this change in organisations. Knowledge has been identified as an important resource for organisations to achieve competitive advantage in this economy. Therefore, many organisations are striving to employ knowledge workers and adjust their organisational strategies, structures and processes accordingly (chapter 2). The nature of knowledge and knowledge management concepts, approaches and components are highlighted in chapter three. In addition, a review on the information and communication technologies that support knowledge management processes and knowledge management systems have been conducted chapter four. This review led to examining the latest interactive knowledge management technologies for knowledge management and highlighting prominent research in the area. Chapter five covers the research methodology underlying this research from the choice of research philosophy, case study design; 7

18 strategies and methods, in addition to the case selected and background information. The findings from conducting the data collection are presented in chapter six, analysed and discussed in chapter seven. The implications of this thesis on the research and practice of knowledge management, the research limitations and areas for future research are also identified (chapter 7). 8

19 Chapter 2 The Knowledge-Based View of the Firm The business environment is getting increasingly complex and challenging (Jashapara, 2011). Factors such as globalisation, the rapid diffusion of new technology and the development and use of knowledge have affected the nature of business and how it is done (Dalkir, 2011). In order to survive and achieve higher levels of performance, organisations must do things differently (Alvesson, 2004). They need to observe new sources of competitive advantage and take part in new forms of competition (Curado and Bontis, 2006). This entails a solid understanding of the nature of competition and competitive dynamics (DeNisi et al., 2003). The knowledge-based view (KBV) of the firm is a perspective that can allow us to understand competitive dynamics. This perspective argues that knowledge is the most strategically valuable firm resource (Barney et al., 2011; Grant, 2002) and that the diverse knowledge bases and capabilities within firms are the main factors that lead to continuous competitive advantage and overall high performance (Eisenhardt and Santos, 2002). In this chapter, the knowledge-based view of the firm is explored. Firstly, the origin of the knowledge-based view of the firm is discussed. Secondly, the development of the knowledge-based view is outlined; in addition, the underlying foundation that governs this perspective is elaborated on. Origins of the Knowledge-Based View of the Firm The majority of researchers agree that the KBV of the firm is an extension of the resource-based view of the firm (Barney et al., 2011; Grant, 2002; Balogun and Jenkins, 2003; Bontis, 2002; De Carolis, 2002; Sveiby, 2001; Huizing and Bouman, 2002). Penrose (1959) formed the foundations for the resource-based view of the 9

20 firm (RBV). Within this view, firms are conceptualised as an administrative organisation (Curado and Bontis, 2006) with a set of productive physical and human resources. It is argued that the physical resources including land and equipment, in addition to, human resources and the way they are combined, is what differentiate one firm from another. In return, allowing a firm to deliver products and services in the market. The focus of the RBV is on the firm internally, essentially its resources and capabilities as they determine the value of the organisation (Barney, 2011; Curado and Bontis, 2006; Grant, 2002; Makhija, 2003; Penrose, 1980). It is important to define some key terms before proceeding. Resources in this context are defined as all assets, capabilities, organisational processes, firm attributes, information, knowledge and etc. controlled by a firm that enable the firm to conceive of an implement strategies that improves its efficiency and effectiveness (Barney, 1991, p.101). Firm resources are strengths that firms can utilise to consider and apply their strategies. Capabilities are defined as a subset of resources that enable a firm to take a full advantage of other resources for instance cooperative relationships or marketing skills (Barney, 2011). This theory is put into practice to highlight differences in performance within an industry (Hoopes et al., 2003). The RBV of the firm outlines that the differences in performance occur when organisations have valuable resources that other organisations do not have (Curado and Bontis, 2006). One of the main principles of the RBV is the existence of capability heterogeneity within a population of firms (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Barney, 2011; Helfat and Peteraf, 2003). Organisations are viewed as heterogeneous entities characterised by their particular and distinct resource bases (Marr, 2004; Nelson and Winter, 1982; Barney, 2011). Heterogeneous competition is explained in the RBV based upon the 10

21 fact that close competitors differ in a fundamental way in their resources and capabilities (Helfat and Peteraf, 2003). This view acknowledges that the type, scope and nature of resources and capabilities are the main determinants in their capacity to make profit (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Amit and Shoemaker, 1993). From a strategic perspective, the RBV of the firm, views organisations as a bundle of unique capabilities and competencies that influence their development and growth (Barney et al., 2001; Winter, 1987). The RBV is used to understand competitive dynamics (DeNisi et al., 2003) and from the early 90 s, based on Barney s 1991 research, many scholars have approached the firm and its strategy from a resource-based view perspective (Acedo et al., 2006; Armstrong and Shimizu, 2007; Kraaijenbrink et al., 2010; Lockett et al., 2009; Newbert, 2007). In essence, the RBV of the firm forms a strategic line of thought that investigates the organisation s strengths and weaknesses (Curado and Bontis, 2006). The organisational attributes that lead to value creating strategies are the resources. The firm resources are divided to physical, human and organisational (Barney, 2011). Resources can take the form of tangible and intangible resources (Gupta and Roos, 2001; Mathews, 2003). The competitive advantage and organisational economic wealth is built upon the combination of the resources, assets, and capabilities that the firm owns (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Amit and Schoemaker, 1993). In the RBV of the firm, resources are not restricted to traditional economic productive factors but they also include socially complex resources, for instance: the firm s culture, its reputation with suppliers or clients and interpersonal relationships within firm managers (Barney et al., 2001; Curado and Bontis, 2006). The physical resources may provide returns above average; however, often the intangible 11

22 resources are the ones that provide a sustainable competitive advantage (Makhija, 2003). For the intangible resources are established through a distinctive historical sequence and have a socially complex dimension that is often hard for competitors to imitate. The strategic importance of social and behavioural interactions in the implementation of the organisation s strategies is acknowledged in the RBV of the firm (Barney, 2011). Intangible resource can hardly be altered (Teece, 2007) and often these intangible resources take the form of tacit knowledge in organisations (Makhija, 2003). Barney (2001) identified resources heterogeneity and resources immobility as two important conditions of the RBV of the firm; however they are not enough to acquire sustainable competitive advantage. Barney (2001) classifies firm resources into three categories: physical capital resources, human capital resources and organisational capital resources. Barney (1991) also identified four attributes an organisation s resource should have to provide the potential for competitive advantage, the resources should be: rare, valuable, imitable, non-substitutable. These conditions are widely accepted in the literature and have been explored further (Hoopes et al., 2003; King and Zeithaml, 2003; Wiklund and Shepherd, 2003). In this regard, competitive advantage is not acquired from industry dynamics but from the processes of gathering and utilizing resources within the firm (Roos et al., 2001). The more it is difficult to buy, sell, imitate or substitute the organisational resources and capabilities, the more their strategic value. Tacit knowledge or/and trust for instance are invisible assets, that cannot be managed easily or duplicated by competitors, as they are embedded in the history of the organisation (Amit and Schoemaker, 1993). 12

23 Using the RBV of the firm, researchers can establish a connection between the resources of the firm and its sustained competitive advantage. This view outlined the presence of rivalry between firms that showcase differences in efficiency as a result of resources heterogeneity. The view assumes that the differences in efficiency between firms that are part of the same industry remain due to the difficulty in imitating the resources each firm has (Curado and Bontis, 2006). As a result, systematic variations in performance and profit originate from particular firm factors (Amit and Schoemaker, 1993). From the Resource-Based View to the Knowledge-Based View of the Firm An outcome of the RBV of the firm is the development of the Knowledge-Based view (KBV) of the firm (Barney et al., 2011; Grant, 2002; Balogun and Jenkins, 2003; Bontis, 2002; De Carolis, 2002; Roos, 1998; Hoskisson et al., 1999; Sveiby, 2001; Huizing and Bouman, 2002). In this view, knowledge is considered to be the most important strategic resource (De Carolis, 2002). The KBV is aligned with the current economic context (Davenport, 2001; Garud and Kumaraswamy, 2002; Grant, 2002; Mathews, 2003) for in this context, intangible assets are of high value (Grant, 2002; Barney, 2011; Curado and Bontis, 2006; Mathews, 2003). The theoretical connection between the RBV and KBV is established from the way knowledge is interpreted as a resource (Edwards et al., 2003). The notion of competition based on capabilities and increasing returns was introduced by Penrose (1959) and extended to both the RBV and the KBV (Marr, 2004). Moreover, similar to the RBV, organisations are considered to be heterogeneous entities filled with knowledge in the KBV of the firm (Curado and Bontis, 2006). Increasingly, the 13

24 resource base of the organisation is noted to include knowledge-based assets (Svieby, 2001; Marr, 2004). The concept behind the RBV of the firm outlines that unique characteristics of intangible resources (specifically knowledge) should guide the focus of research (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Rouse and Daellenbach, 2002; ). To ensure sustainable competitive advantage, knowledge resources are particularly essential, as they are hard to imitate and are basis for sustainable differentiation (Wiklund and Shepherd, 2003). One of the reasons for the growing interest in the KBV of the firm is built upon the fact that academia acknowledges the central economic changes that are a result of the accumulation and availability of knowledge in the past two decades (Curado and Bontis, 2006). There is a structural change in the productive paradigm (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Carneiro, 2003) as we are moving away from manufacturing to services in many developed economies (Dalkir, 2011) and the understanding of information and symbols is becoming increasingly important (Alvesson, 2004). As highlighted in the previous section, the RBV of the firm acknowledges the existence of differences in performance between organisations as a result of resource asymmetries, particularly in relation to knowledge. Therefore, the KBV of the firm stated that organisations are present to create, transfer and transform knowledge into competitive advantage (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Kogut and Zander, 1992). However, transferring knowledge through the organisation can be hard; due to what has been termed stickiness (Szulanski, 2003). The stickiness refers to internal factors that allow the real achievement of competitive advantage, at the same time, it obstructs the adoption of rents from existing knowledge assets (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Szulanski, 2003). 14

25 Intangible assets can take two forms the individual (e.g. leadership) and social (e.g. organisational reputation). Both forms have been identified as the foundation for sustainable competitive advantage. Applying a RBV approach, the central capabilities (such as the capabilities to identify and find solutions to organisational problems) are the foundation for the specific competitive advantage of a firm. The existing literature emphasises capabilities and competencies as the basis for the competitive advantage (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Amit and Schoemaker, 1993). The knowledge-based view of the firm The change of economy from a material based production to information based production demanded a new set of skills and roles from the firm workers (Alvesson, 2004) and the need for employees to specialise has been identified (Grant, 2002). It is often the case that knowledge workers are at the centre of the organisational functions such as finance, marketing, technology designers and management. In this context, a knowledge worker can be defined as a qualified worker whose main work activities include creating, processing, utilizing and disseminating information (Alvesson, 2004). Many firms believe that they need to become a knowledge-based organisation to maintain sustainability and competitive advantage in today s economy. However, very few firms comprehend what that means and entails and how to achieve this transformation. A common pitfall which firms often fall in, is their belief that the higher the knowledge content of their products and services, the closer they are to being a knowledge-based organisation (Curado and Bontis, 2006). Zack (2003) uses the metaphor of an iceberg to illustrate this further, with the products and services being only the tip of the iceberg, the visible and tangible aspect represented to their 15

26 customers. While what enables the firm to function is actually located underneath the surface of the water, underlined in the hidden intangible assets of the firm and it includes the knowledge of the functions of the firm, how these functions are done and why are they done this way. The view that organisations are cultural artefacts is in line with the KBV of the firm (Balogun and Jenkins, 2003) for they learn through activities and adapt over time (Curado and Bontis, 2006). The process of organisational learning enables the firm to attain, to change and reserve its organisational capabilities (Yanow, 2000). Culture is often defined as a set of beliefs and assumptions common to and shared by members of an organisation (Balogun and Jenkins, 2003; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 2001). In this sense, organisational culture is the stock of knowledge that is integrated in patterns and steps of actions to take before certain situations (Bontis et al., 2002). It is through organisational routines that knowledge becomes embedded and tacit. A routine involves a behaviour that is learned, repeated, even if only partly, in tacit knowledge (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Winter, 2003). Nonaka and von Krogh (2009) identified knowledge to be the only true lasting competitive advantage. Blackler (2002) theorized the knowledge-based organisations and McEvily and Chakravarthy (2002), the knowledge-based advantage. These scholars acknowledge that non-observable factors have an influence on firm performance, such as: management capabilities and competencies, tacit organisational routines, technical knowledge. They identify that these factors may be the key determinants of firm performance (Curado and Bontis, 2006). The literature on strategic management relates competitive advantage in a way that it links firm performance disparity to intangible factors (Curado and Bontis, 2006; 16

27 Rouse and Daellenbach, 2002). With the exception of natural resource monopolies, the intangible resources provide potential for competitive advantage, this is due to the intangible resources complex, hard to imitate and rare nature (Hitt et al., 2001). In parallel, there is a literature in knowledge management that relates superior knowledge bases, as a result of organisational learning to superior firm performances (Bontis et al., 2002; Senge, 2006), in addition to highlighting variations in knowledge inventories as the foundation for competitive advantage (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Miller, 2002). A well-established knowledge base is linked with higher strategic flexibility and a rapid response to environmental changes (Curado and Bontis, 2006; Grant, 2002; Umemoto, 2002). Formal structures are abandoned in knowledge intensive firms and coordination is achieved through internal normative systems and social rewards, as opposed to hierarchical control (Alvesson, 2004). When examining the productive process that transforms knowledge into services, structure and control are the most written about areas (Rylander and Peppard, 2004). The question of autonomy and control has been highlighted frequently in the literature (Curado and Bontis, 2006). Some authors argue that the solution to the question is through applying cultural and normative processes, as opposed to adopting formal hierarchal structure (Rylander and Peppard, 2004; Curado and Bontis, 2006). Grant (2002) mentions five principles that form the foundation for the knowledgebased view of the firm, firstly, the transferability of knowledge. As per the aforementioned, knowledge is identified as a strategic resource for competitive advantage but for it to be valuable to a firm, it needs to be transferrable. Explicit knowledge tends to be easier to share as opposed to tacit knowledge, which given its nature, is harder to transfer. Transferability is important for external purposes (for 17

28 example between firms) and internal purposes (for example between employees). The second underlying principle for the knowledge-based view of the firm is the capacity for aggregation. To ease the difficulties in transferring knowledge, the ability for knowledge to be stored and added to the existing knowledge needs to be facilitated. Having a common language that everyone understands enhances the potential for aggregation. Information and communication technology tools could also facilitate the storing and sharing of knowledge (Hahn and Wang, 2009; Alavi and Leidner, 2001). The third principle that Grant (2002) mention that underlies the knowledge-based view of the firm is appropriability, this refers to the ability for a person to receive equally valuable resource to which was given. Tacit knowledge tends to be harder for people to articulate and therefore learn while explicit knowledge is easier for people to absorb. The fourth principle of the knowledgebased view of the firm is specialisation in knowledge acquisition. Individuals have a limited capacity to acquire, store and process internal and external knowledge. To increase efficient use of knowledge different employees need to specialise in variety of knowledge areas. The final knowledge-based view principle relates to knowledge requirements of production. As it has been established, knowledge is the key input in production of a business and the production involves the transformation of inputs into outputs. Hence, it can be observed that the knowledge-based view of the firm primary relies on the competence of people, they are considered as the agents of the business that can often lead organisations to profitability (Sveiby, 2001). People create value by transferring and converting knowledge externally and internally to the organisation (Sveiby, 2001). Each time a knowledge transfer or conversion takes place, the value grows (von Krogh and Grand, 2002). Therefore, it is encouraged to adopt strategies 18

29 that facilitate knowledge transfer and sharing within and across firms (Powell and Ambrosini, 2012). Moreover, once knowledge is transferred it needs to be managed and stored (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). There is a general consensus that sustainable competitive advantage in the 21st century is achieved through knowledge management (Halawi et al., 2005; Hahn and Wang, 2009). Large organisations are becoming increasingly alert to the value of knowledge for efficiency and competitiveness (Dalkir, 2011). There is a general acceptance that knowledge and its application is the means by which creativity can be encouraged (Nonaka and Nishiguchi, 2001), innovation supported (von Krogh et al., 2000) and competencies utilised in such a way as to increase organisational performance. Knowledge management is a comprehensive strategy of providing the right knowledge to the right people in timely manner (Halawi et al., 2005). It enables employees to share and act on the information received in a way that will enhance organisational performance (van Ewyk, 2000). Knowledge management can be viewed as a conscious design of processes, structures, tools in order to increase, renew, share or improve the use of knowledge. The overall purpose of knowledge management is to leverage organisation s intellectual assets to sustain competitive advantage. The next chapter defines knowledge, knowledge management and identifies the strategies, components and processes that are involved. 19

30 Chapter 3- Nature of Knowledge and Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice In the previous chapter, the knowledge-based view of the firm that provides a theoretical framework of this study was explored. Knowledge has been identified as one of the key resources for firms seeking sustainable competitive advantage (Curado and Bontis, 2006; DeNisi et al., 2003; Grant, 2002). This chapter examines the foundations of knowledge and introduces the concept of knowledge management. Firstly, the alternative views of knowledge are explored and the different types of knowledge are discussed. Secondly, the term knowledge management is introduced and the driving factors for knowledge management are highlighted. Thirdly, knowledge management strategies are examined, in addition to the knowledge management processes and cycle. The knowledge management infrastructure is then presented and the different knowledge management maturity models are explored. Finally, a review on knowledge management current status, limitations and challenges is presented. Alternative Views of Knowledge The existing literature on the nature of knowledge is mostly based upon the views of two authors, Ryle (1949) and Polanyi (1967). Burrell and Morgan s (1979) expanded on these views by developing a framework of which the epistemological positions are identified. The four main philosophical positions are: positivism, constructivism, postmodernism and critical realism. Each of these epistemological positions has underlying assumptions of knowledge and how it is viewed and they can be categorised under subjective or objective paradigms. 20

31 Through interactions with individuals, the subjective views reality as socially constructed (Beccerra-Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Schultze and Stabell, 2004). Knowledge is looked at as an on-going accomplishment, which is constantly affected by social practices (Boland and Tenkasi, 1995). Therefore, knowledge cannot be pinned down to a certain location, for it does not exist independent of human experiences and social practices (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Branching from the subjective view is two perspectives (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004), the state of mind and practice. The first perspective considers knowledge as a state of an individual's mind (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). The beliefs of the individuals within the organisation are viewed as the organisational knowledge. In addition, since individuals have different experiences and come from diverse backgrounds, their beliefs, and therefore knowledge, could differ from one another. As a result, the emphasis is on empowering individuals to develop their personal areas of knowledge in order to apply them to best pursue organisational goals (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). The second perspective of the subjective view is, knowledge as practice, whilst knowledge is still viewed subjectively, it is possessed by a group and not broken down into components held by individuals (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Therefore, from knowledge as practice view, knowledge is "neither possessed by any one agent, nor contained in any other repository" (Schultze, 1999, p.10). In addition, knowledge lives not in any individual but in practice. Knowledge consists of beliefs; however the beliefs are combined as opposed to individual and in return are more revealed in organisational activities instead of the minds of organisational individuals. Knowledge is "inherently indeterminate and continually emerging" (Tsoukas, 1996, p.22). 21

32 In contrast to the subjective stance, the objective perspective views reality as independent of human perceptions and can be structured in terms of a priori categories and concepts (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Schultze and Stabell, 2004). Therefore, knowledge is treated as an object or a capability that can be found and enhanced upon by human agents (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). There are three different perspectives that fall under the objective view, the knowledge as objects, knowledge as access to information and knowledge as capability. Knowledge as objects views knowledge as a commodity that can be saved, shared and influenced (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). In line with the meaning given to knowledge as a predefined collection of justified beliefs, these knowledge objects (i.e. beliefs) can reside in different locations and can be of different types (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). The second objective perspective, views knowledge as the conditions of access to information (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Alavi and Leidner, 2001). Hence, knowledge is looked at as allowing contact and use of information. The third perspective, is in line with the previous two perspectives, nonetheless, this perspective is unique in that it is centralised around the ways in which knowledge can be applied to influence action. Knowledge is viewed as a strategic capability that can implement to achieve competitive advantage. Furthermore, in an attempt to capture different knowledge management taxonomies, Kakabadse et al. (2003) identified five different models: the philosophical based model, cognitive model, network model, community model and quantum model. The philosophical based model views knowledge as a 'justified true belief' and is epistemologically driven (Kakabadse et al., 2003, p.75). The focus is on the ways of knowing and the main objective is emancipation. This model relies on reflecting, 22

33 questioning and debating as a practice to produce new knowledge (Murray, 2000). Information Technology tools almost have no role in this model. The second model identified by Kakabadse et al. (2003) is the cognitive model and it views knowledge as an object that can be codified to represent facts. Metaphorically it resembles a 'memory' in which knowledge is obtained and retained. The main objective is to capture knowledge and codify it mainly using technology as a tool. Knowledge is often standardized and retained from being used over and over again. The third model identified is referred to as a network model and knowledge under this model is treated as "external to the adopter in explicit and implicit forms" (Kakabadse et al. 2003, p.81). The focus is on searching all that is new externally to gain knowledge that will provide a competitive advantage. Technology plays a complimentary role under this model. The community model develops a more socially constructed stance towards viewing knowledge, under the belief that knowledge is based on experience. It involves creating, applying knowledge to encourage knowledge sharing and putting the new knowledge gained from this process into practice. This model is based on and values commitment and trust whilst technology does play a supporting role. Finally the Quantum model treats knowledge as 'system of possibilities' (Kakabadse et al. 2003, p.81). The idea behind this model is to solve complex issues to achieve multiple realities and learning systems. Technology is a key player and critical in this domain. Similarly to how Burrell and Morgan (1979) argue that there are two broad perspectives in the social sciences in relation to epistemology: the positivist and anti- 23

34 positivist, Hislop (2005) identified two broad epistemological groups in the contemporary debate on the nature of knowledge, these two, perhaps competing perspectives are the objectivist perspective and the practice-based perspective. These two perspectives have been referred to in different ways by various authors (see table 1). Table 1: Competing epistemologies (Hislop, 2005, p.14) Author Objectivist Perspective Practice-Based Perspective Werr and Stjernberg (2003) Knowledge as theory Knowledge as practice Empson (2001) Knowledge as an asset Knowledge as a process Cook and Brown (1999) Epistemology of possession Epistemology of practice McAdam and McCreedy (2000) Knowledge as truth Knowledge as socially constructed Scarbough (1998) Content theory of knowledge Relational view of knowledge The objectivist perspective in this case is based on the positivism philosophy, in which knowledge is treated as an entity, with objective facts (McAdam and McCreedy, 2000) for this reason it is referred to as the epistemology of possession (Cook and Brown, 1999) and knowledge can be viewed as truth (McAdam and McCreedy, 2000). This perspective, values the objective knowledge (explicit) over subjective (tacit) and there is an understanding that knowledge is derived from an intellectual process (Cook and Brown, 1999). Tacit and explicit knowledge are defined next. The practice-based perspective, on the other hand, is aligned to different philosophical perspectives as opposed to the objectivist perspective, which is aligned to the positivism philosophy (see table 2). Table 2: Theoretical perspective related to the practice-based perspective - Source: Hislop (2005, p.28) Author Empsom (2001) Theoretical Perspective Interpretive 24

35 Blackler (1995) Tsoukas (1996) Cook and Brown (1999) Lave and Wenger (1991) Sayer (1992) Suchman (2003) Activity Theory Ethnomethodology/ Interpretive Philosophy American Pragmatists Situated Learning Theory Critical Realism Actor Network Theory In contrast to the objectivist perspective, is the practice-based perspective in which knowledge is seen as embedded in practice and for that it is called the epistemology of practice (Cook and Brown, 1999). For human activity is considered central to the conception of knowledge (Hislop, 2005; Gherardi, 2000; Patriotta, 2003). Moreover, there is a belief that knowledge is embodied in people (Tsoukas, 1996; Hislop, 2005); it is culturally embedded and constructed (Tsoukas, 1996; Boland and Tenkasi, 1995). Consequently, given the different assumptions of each of these perspectives, knowledge is managed and shared differently in each. This will be elaborated on in further sections. In this section the alternative views of knowledge have been explored, the next section identifies the different types of knowledge that scholars have written about. Different Types of Knowledge Throughout the knowledge literature, knowledge has been categorised in many different ways. Herein, the main categories are explained and discussed. Declarative or Procedural Knowledge The first classification is the one between procedural and declarative or as it is also called substantive knowledge (Banks and Millward, 2007; Kogut and Zander, 1992). Declarative knowledge is centralized on beliefs about relationships among variables (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). For instance, the increase in the price of products 25

36 will cause some decrease in the number of sales. It can be identified in the type of expected correlations, propositions or formulas presented as variables. In contract, procedural knowledge revolves around beliefs relating sequences of steps or actions to desired outcomes (Banks and Millward, 2007). For instance a predefined collection of justified beliefs about the procedures that needs to be undertaken in a government organisation to decide who to hire for a certain area (for e.g. marketing). In summary, declarative knowledge is categorised as 'know what' whilst procedural knowledge is categorised as the 'know how' Becerra-Fernandez et al., Explicit or Tacit Knowledge The second major classification of knowledge in the knowledge management literature is that of tacit or explicit (Nonaka and Von Krogh, 2009; Collins, 2010). This is also derived from the work of the philosophers Gilbert Ryles (1949) and Michael Polanyi (1967). Ryle (1949) made the distinction between knowing what (explicit) and knowing how (tacit). Explicit knowledge relates to the knowledge that can be conveyed in numbers and words, one that is documented and that can be shared in the form of manuals, data, audio, video and etc. (Kothari et al., 2012). Tacit knowledge, in contrast, refers to intuitions, insights and hunches. Polanyi (1967, p.32), described it as we know more than we can tell as this type of knowledge is hard to covey and express, and hence hard to transfer (Ambrosini and Bowman, 2001; Powell and Ambrosini, 2012). The nature of the knowledge tends to be personal and based on individual experiences and activities (Kothari et al., 2012). Given the characteristics mentioned above, it is argued that tacit knowledge could be a source of competitive advantage (Dalkir, 2011; Taylor, 2007) for it is unique, hard to articulate, transfer and imitate (Bowman and Ambrosini, 2003). 26

37 This will be elaborated on in the Knowledge Management Strategy section. Table 3 summarizes the major properties of tacit vs. explicit knowledge. Table 3: Comparison of Properties of Tacit Vs. Explicit Knowledge (Source: Dalkir. 2011, p.8) Properties of Tacit Knowledge Properties of Explicit Knowledge Ability to adapt, to deal with new and exceptional situations Ability to disseminate, to reproduce, to access, and to reapply through the organisation Expertise, know-how, know-why, and care-why Ability to teach, to train Ability to collaborate, to share a vision, to transmit a culture Ability to organise, to systematize, to translate a vision into a mission statement, into operational guidelines Coaching and mentoring to transfer experiential knowledge on a one-to-one, face-to-face basis Transfer of knowledge via products, services, and documented processes Polanyi (1967), argues that these two types of knowledge are not separate entities but exist along a continuum (Jashapara, 2011). Nonaka and von Krogh (2009) took this further by arguing although explicit and tacit knowledge are different forms of knowledge; it is possible to convert explicit knowledge to tacit and vice versa. This will be elaborated on in the Knowledge Management Cycle and the Knowledge Spiral. General or Specific Knowledge Finally, knowledge is also classified on the basis of whether it s possessed widely or narrowly (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). General knowledge is acquired by many individuals and can be smoothly shared between individuals. For instance, the rules of a football game may be considered as general knowledge (Becerra-Fernandez et 27

38 al., 2004). The example of general knowledge in this context is showing a red card to a player means he is expelled from the match. In contrast with general knowledge, is specific knowledge that is acquired by a small number of individuals, and therefore may be costly to transfer (Martin and Salomon, 2003; Jensen and Meckling, 1995). There are two types of specific knowledge, technically specific knowledge and contextually specific knowledge (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). The technically specific knowledge is defined as in depth knowledge on a specific area, the techniques and tools that may be utilised to solve problems in this field. This type of knowledge is usually learnt from of an official training and is then improved upon by experience and practice in the area. An example is the knowledge about the hardware component of a computer acquired by a computer engineer (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). The second type of specific knowledge is contextually specific knowledge that is based on Hayek (1945) work. It relates to the knowledge of certain circumstances of place and time that work is to be completed. It is relevant to the organisation and the organisational department within which tasks are achieved (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). In contrast with technically specific knowledge, contextually specific knowledge cannot be absorbed through official training but instead it must be acquired from within the specific context for example as membership in the same baseball team (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). The aforementioned have covered the major types of knowledge identified in the literature; the next section introduces the term knowledge management, identifies the drivers for knowledge management in organisations, knowledge management 28

39 strategies, processes and infrastructure. Finally, the current status of knowledge management, limitations and challenges will be explored. Introducing Knowledge Management Knowledge management is a relatively emerging, young, discipline in this postindustrial economy and it has roots in a number of different disciplines (Jashapara, 2011). There are two most common dimensions found in the literature: one which is strongly information systems oriented, implying that it is little more than information management (Mertins et al., 2000) and the other dimension is more people-oriented emphasizing the role of people in knowledge creation and sharing, hence making the subject more human resource management (Skyrme, 1999; Swan, et al. 1999). There is no or little crossover between these two dimensions, each party fails to recognise that the language and assumptions of each discipline vary significantly (Jashapara, 2011). In addition to these two main dimensions, there are some additional perspectives within the knowledge management literature, spanning from strategy (Newell et al., 2009; uit Beijerse, 2000) to cultural management. Therefore, it is natural that there is little consistency between these offerings as many authors relate the subject to their singular discipline perspective. However, the strength and challenge of knowledge management as an emerging discipline comes from its interdisciplinary approach. The real synergies in knowledge management are likely to occur from boundaryspanning individuals who can see beyond the narrow margins of their own disciplines and recognise the value of dialogue and debate with other disciplines (Jashapara, 2011). 29

40 Due to the multidisciplinary nature of knowledge management, the variety of current definitions comes from a number of different perspectives. For example Mertins et al. (2000, p.22), taking an information systems perspective defines knowledge management as "All methods, instruments, and tools that in a holistic approach contribute to the promotion of core knowledge processes." In contrast, Swan et al. (1999, p.42), takes a human resource perspective, defining knowledge management as any process or practice of creating, acquiring, capturing, sharing, and using knowledge, wherever it resides, to enhance learning and performance in organisations. Skyrme (1999, p.91), also takes a human resource perspective, defining knowledge management as "the explicit and systematic management of vital knowledge and its associated process of creating, gathering, organizing, diffusion, use and exploitation, in pursuit of organisational objectives". Increasingly authors take a strategy perspective, recognizing knowledge management practices for gaining competitive advantage. For instance Newell et al. (2009, p.81), define knowledge management as "improving the ways in which firms facing highly turbulent environments can mobilize their knowledge base (or leverage their knowledge assets ) in order to ensure continuous innovation". uit Beijerse (2000, p.52), also take a strategy perspective, defining knowledge management as "the achievement of the organisation's goals by making the factor knowledge productive". It is clear that any advancement in the knowledge management field need to adopt an integrated, interdisciplinary and strategic approach (Jashapara, 2011). Davenport and Prusak (2000, p.11) adopt an integrated approach, including information 30

41 systems and human resources, they state "Knowledge management draws from existing resources that your organisation may already have in place good information systems management, organisational change management, and human resources management practices" From a strategy perspective, scholars seek knowledge management activities that increase intellectual capital and improve organisational performance (Newell et al., 2009). Moreover, through different learning processes, there is a human dimension to developing knowledge amongst individuals, groups and organisations. As knowledge is created, the fundamental challenge in this field remains in the sharing of this knowledge (Kothari et al., 2012; Jashapara, 2011; Ali et al., 2012; Powell and Ambrosini, 2012). Individuals require support in exploring and exploiting tacit and explicit knowledge (Kothari et al., 2012; Jashapara, 2011; Ali et al., 2012) comprehensively. There are various tools, techniques, systems and technologies (see next chapter) that attempt to facilitate this process of knowledge creation, capture, organisation, evaluation, storage and sharing (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Alavi and Leidner, 2001). Nonetheless, knowledge management systems and organisational processes are not enough to achieve success. Various knowledge management initiatives failed due to negligence of cultural and change management factors that are key to successful adoption (Hislop, 2005). Jashapara (2011, p.14), combined all these different dimensions into and integrated knowledge management definition, from an interdisciplinary perspective, as the effective learning processes associated with exploration, exploitation and sharing of human knowledge (tacit and explicit) that use appropriate technology and cultural environments to enhance an organisation s intellectual capital and performance. 31

42 This integrated definition will be adopted henceforth for the purpose of this research. The next section outlines the key drivers for the rise of knowledge management. Forces Driving Knowledge Management Many authors have addressed the issue of major drivers behind today s increased interest in and application of knowledge management and they more or less identify the same drivers (Beamish et al. 2001; Fernandez, 2004; Dalkir, 2011). The first driver identified in the literature (Fernandez, 2004; Dalkir, 2011) is the globalization of business. There is a substantial increase in international commerce. The products that were made within one company or country are now collated from parts from multiple sources worldwide. While in the past there were limited product alternatives, nowadays there are many. Frequently, production and service capabilities that were available from a few sources in developed countries are being found in countries that were regarded as developing and unqualified to conduct sophisticated work. This resulted in intensive competition and for firms to survive; they needed to be effective in the creation of products and services, operations and marketing. Hence, there is an interest in knowledge management to facilitate this process of products and services creation, streamlining operations and marketing. The second driver for the interest in knowledge management is the move towards leaner organisations and the challenge of delivering better, quicker and in time (Dalkir, 2011). Thirdly, the need for highly skilled labour and this point relates the one before in which in order to deliver high quality products efficiently and effectively, there is a need for competent, empowered, knowledge workers (Alvesson, 2004). Fourth, is the high turnover of employees and mobility of workforce, if the knowledge created is not retained, organisations risk the knowledge being lost, hence 32

43 organisations need to take precautionary measures to ensure knowledge continuity. Lastly, the advancements in technologies and their far-reaching effects is one of the drivers for knowledge management (Blackler, 2002). Technology helps organisations keep connected in real time, organisations are expected to be highly responsive in which the response time is not measured in weeks or days nowadays, it is measured in minutes. Hence, it is observed with the increase in domain complexity, market volatility and pace of change, organisations are challenged to keep up with this change, take rapid decisions, adjust and adapt, intensify speed of responsiveness otherwise they risk being run over by other competitors (Jashapara, 2011; Dalkir, 2011). Therefore, organisations are striving to adopt strategies to create and manage the knowledge they have. This will be explored in the next section Developing a knowledge management strategy. Developing a knowledge management strategy Given that today s industry is increasingly relying on intellectual assets, one of the most important assets an organisation possesses is its knowledge (Grant, 2002). It is assumed that knowledge in its tacit and explicit form can be managed (Jashapara, 2011) and that the effective use of knowledge will provide the organisation with a sustainable competitive advantage (Halawi et al., 2005; Grant, 2002). The forms of strategy in the knowledge management literature range between achieving efficiency or innovation (Mintzberg et al., 2008; Alwis et al., 2008). It is argued that to achieve sustainability, organisations are constantly striving in one or another direction towards innovation or efficiency, depending on market conditions (Nielsen and Michailova, 2007; Hansen et al. 1999). Deregulations of markets, 33

44 aggressive competitor action and economic downturns lead to discontinuities and a huge loss of market share (Jashapara, 2011). In case of such a discontinuity or crisis, an organisation will most likely shift focus from one from to another, for instance efficiency to innovation. The two most common knowledge management strategies adopted in organisations are codification and personalization strategies (Hansen et al., 1999). The codification strategy is heavily technology-led with minimum emphasis on people. The focus is on acquiring a large database to codify and store knowledge. Within this strategy, explicit knowledge is considered and knowledge is viewed as an object, for instance: after implementing a project, key pieces of knowledge will be extracted and stored in a repository for others to refer to and re-use. Therefore, codification strategies are often adopted by organisations focussing on efficiency as a business strategy. On the other hand, there is the personalization strategy that is in contrast with the codification strategy as it is driven by people (Hansen et al., 1999). The focus is more on bringing people together through brainstorming activities and communication and collective problem solving. As a result, there is a strong emphasis on tacit knowledge sharing and facilitating contact and networking (Hansen et al., 1999). Stover (2004) identifies that the prerequisite for tacit knowledge development is by adopting an open culture that supports innovation and interaction with others. Establishing personal contact with external and internal actors is important for the development of tacit knowledge in organisations (Sveiby, 2001). Baumard (1999) identifies three characteristics that are common to organisations successful in capturing the tacit knowledge of their employees. First, resolving vagueness and ambiguity through communities of practice. Second, the 34

45 capability of organisations in establishing informal matrices of relationships, and finally, the reliance of organisations on collective knowledge. With the personalization strategy, knowledge sharing is mediated in various forms: face-to-face, phone, video-conferencing or/and knowledge management technologies that enable the location of expertise and the right set of skills such as expertise databases or internal yellow pages (Jashapara, 2011). The emphasis is on enabling dialogue, networking and conversations to find collective solutions to unique problems encountered while conducting work tasks. Central to this approach is knowledge sharing, mentoring, and the utilisation of creative and analytical skills (Jashapara, 2011). Therefore, personalization strategies are often adopted by organisations differentiating themselves by providing innovative solutions. In summary, organisations adopting codification strategies invest highly in knowledge databases and advanced search engines whilst incentivizing employees to codify and store their knowledge in these databases. On the other hand, organisations adopting personalization strategies invest less on technology, using low level technology, for example: expert databases whilst highly rewarding employees for knowledge sharing and networking with their peers. It has been argued that organisations that try to apply both strategies at the same time are deemed to fail (Hansen et al., 1999; Mintzberg et al., 1991; Nielsen and Michailova, 2007), as when two different forces (efficiency and innovation) collide in one setting, it can be paralysing to the organisation. Nonetheless, more recent studies demonstrate how both strategies can co-exist in one organisation and result in achieving high competitive advantage (Powell and Ambrosini, 2012; Grundstein, 2013). This will be examined further in the Discussions chapter. 35

46 Other authors (Dotsika and Patrick, 2006; Jashapara, 2011) use the push and pull analogy to describe knowledge management strategy. It has been suggested that for an organisation to manage knowledge successfully, it needs to convert implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge in order to distribute it to the right channels (Nonaka and Von Krogh, 2009). One of the used knowledge management strategies is the push strategy (Dotsika and Patrick, 2006), where individuals within the organisation transfer, and retrieve knowledge from a shared data repository, such as a database or a directory of some sort. Another used strategy is known as the pull strategy (Dotsika and Patrick, 2006). This approach involves individuals within an organisation making knowledge requests of experts within a certain subject area, on an ad-hoc basis. It is argued that in the past organisations incorporated online corporate yellow pages as a tool to find experts in specific areas and document management systems. With the advent of IBM s Lotus Notes and other collaborative technologies in the late 90 s, knowledge management technologies expanded beyond business directories and document management (Dotsika and Patrick, 2006). This followed more of the pull strategy for knowledge management. In recent times, with the evolution of the web and the development of social computing tools (e.g. blogs) a more amorphous, self-governing approach to the creation, capture and transfer of knowledge is being observed (Naeve, 2005). Accordingly, these tools and advancements implied gravitating more towards the pull strategy of knowledge management (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009). As with any new technology, one needs to be careful of wholesale adoption as each organisation has unique needs, and any strategies should be finetuned to meet those needs. This will be discussed further in the findings section. The 36

47 next section explores the knowledge management processes and knowledge spiral model. Knowledge Management Cycle and the Knowledge Spiral Model For knowledge management to be effective, organisations need to identify, create, obtain, disseminate, and capture the benefits of knowledge that provide it with strategic advantage (Dalkir, 2011). Information is not the same as knowledge (Davenport and Prusak, 2000; Jashapara, 2011); there is a clear distinction between the two: information is digitizable and true knowledge assets often reside in the mind of people, and not the organisation. A knowledge management cycle or process is the route information residing in the human knower takes in order to become a valuable strategic asset for the organisation (McElroy, 2003). There are various knowledge management cycles described in the literature (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Jashapara, 2011; Bukowitz and Williams, 2000; McElroy, 2003), nonetheless, upon a closer observation they all include similar processes but use different terms for these processes. The knowledge cycle model that will be described in this research will be the Fernandez, Gonzalez and Sabherwal (2004) model as it is comprehensive with respect to the different types of steps found in the knowledge management literature and a detailed description of the knowledge management process is involved in each step. As per the aforementioned, knowledge management is reliant on four main kind of knowledge management processes, these include the process in which knowledge is discovered or captured and then the process in which knowledge is shared and applied (see figure 1). 37

48 Figure 1: Knowledge Management Processes (Fernandez et al., 2004, p.32) In the model developed by Fernandez, Gonzalez and Sabherwal (2004), these four processes have seven sub-processes. Four of these sub-processes are inspired by Nonaka (1994) knowledge spiral (Socialisation, Externalisation, Internalisation and Combination), with an emphasis on the way in which knowledge is transformed through the interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge (see figure 2). The remaining three sub-processes (exchange, direction and routines), are based on the work of Grant (2002) and Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998). Figure 2: Knowledge Spiral Model (Source: Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995, p.36) 38

49 Knowledge Discovery This process relates to the development of new tacit or explicit knowledge from data and information or from bringing together former knowledge (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Through combination, new explicit knowledge is discovered in which multiple bodies of explicit knowledge are brought together to develop new, more complex set of explicit knowledge (Nonaka, 1994). New explicit knowledge is created gradually or drastically by utilising practices such as communication, incorporation and systemisation of a number channels of explicit knowledge (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). Existing explicit knowledge, data and information are recontextualised and reformed to produce new explicit knowledge (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). For instance when coming up with a new proposal for a client, explicit data and information incorporated in previous proposals may be combined into a new proposal (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). With regards to tacit knowledge, the bringing together of a number of channels for the development of new knowledge happens through socialisation (Nonaka, 1994). Socialisation refers to the practice of bringing together individuals tacit knowledge, often through shared activities instead of verbal and written instructions. For instance, Davenport and Prusak (2000), illustrates how conversations near the water coolers at IBM enabled knowledge sharing amongst employees. Knowledge Capture Knowledge is located within people, artefacts and organisational entities and it can take explicit or tacit forms. Knowledge may be located in an individual's mind, without the individual being aware of it in order to share it. Alternatively, knowledge may be located in an explicit form, for example in a manual however a few people may be aware of it (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). It is crucial to acquire the tacit knowledge residing in the individual's minds in addition to the explicit knowledge 39

50 from the manual; in return knowledge can be transferred to others (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). This process of acquiring either tacit or explicit knowledge that is located in the minds of people, artefacts or organisational entities is called the knowledge capture process (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). The knowledge captured might also be located outside organisational boundaries for instance, suppliers, consultants, customers and previous employers of the organisation's new employees (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Sveiby, 2001). There are two knowledge management sub-processes that allow the process of capturing knowledge. These two sub-processes are identified by Nonaka (1994), and they assist in capturing tacit and explicit knowledge. There first one is externalisation, this relates to transforming tacit knowledge into an explicit form such as visuals, words, concepts or figurative language through the use of metaphors, analogies and narratives (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 2001). Externalisation also enables the translation of an individual s tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge that is clearer and easier to understand by the rest of the team. Due to the fact that tacit knowledge is not easy to articulate, this is a difficult process (Grant, 2002). For instance, externalisation may involve, a team of consultants, writing the lessons they learned working with the client organisation that could then be of a use for the team. In return, capturing the tacit knowledge acquired by the team members. The second sub-process is internalisation, which refers to transforming explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge. This sub-process relates to the notion of learning, for the explicit knowledge is applied in practice and action (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Moreover, individuals may obtain tacit knowledge in virtual situations literally by going through manuals or other stories (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 2001). For instance, new service consultants may read a book on 40

51 providing the best client service and learn from it. This way the knowledge they learned by reading the book is captured within themselves and their organisations. Knowledge Sharing The third knowledge management process is referred to as knowledge sharing and it involves the communication of tacit or explicit knowledge to other individuals (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). There are three clarifications that Fernandez et al. (2004) established, firstly, there is an emphasis on effective transfer, i.e. the receiver of knowledge is able to comprehend it (the knowledge) well enough to act on it (Sveiby, 2001; Jensen and Meckling, 1995). Secondly, the aspect that is shared is knowledge itself not recommendations based on the knowledge. This point is crucial since the former entails the receiver obtaining the knowledge, understanding it and acting on it whilst the latter just involves that use of knowledge without the receiver internalising the shared knowledge (Sveiby, 2001). Thirdly, knowledge sharing is not limited to individuals, it may occur at a group, departmental or organisational level (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). In cases where knowledge is located in a place that is different from where it is needed, either knowledge sharing or knowledge utilisation without sharing is necessary (elaborated on in the next sub-section). Knowledge sharing is an important process in ensuring innovation and high performance levels in organisations. For example, Jack Welsh, General Electric CEO, ensured knowledge sharing was amongst the three business processes that the company highlighted (Stewart, 2000). Knowledge utilisation will be discussed in the next sub-section. Knowledge sharing incorporates two sub-processes, socialisation (which was covered in the earlier section) and exchange. Which one of these two sub-processes is used depends on whether explicit or tacit knowledge is transferred. Tacit 41

52 knowledge sharing is facilitated through the socialisation sub-process in both cases, when new tacit knowledge is created and when tacit knowledge is not created. Exchange sub-processes however, enables the sharing of explicit knowledge. It facilitates the communication and transformation of explicit knowledge amongst individuals, groups, and organisations (Grant, 2002). Naturally, the process of exchange of explicit knowledge is the same as the processes in which information is communicated. For instance, a product design manual given from one employee to the other, who can then utilise the explicit knowledge embedded in the manual (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Knowledge Application The last of the knowledge management processes is referred to as knowledge application or utilisation (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). In this process, the knowledge that has been discovered, captured and stored is used to make decisions and perform tasks, in return contributing to organisational performance. Hence, the more effective the process of knowledge discovery, capture and storage, the more effective the decision-making process for the knowledge needed to make the decision is available for the key players. When applying knowledge, the parties that make use of it do not really need to understand it (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). What is needed is that somehow the knowledge is used to inform decisions and actions (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Hence, there are two sub-processes (direction and routines) that knowledge utilisation benefits from that do not entail the actual exchange of knowledge between the related individuals (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Grant, 2002). Direction could be defined as the process by which individuals who hold the knowledge direct the action of other individuals (Grant, 2002). The knowledge underlying the direction 42

53 does not need to be transferred to these individuals. This way, the advantages of specialisation are maintained, in addition to avoiding the obstacles encountered in the transfer of tacit knowledge (Sveiby, 2001). For instance, an example of direction is a production worker reaching out to an expert to solve a problem with a machine, the expert provides the production worker with guidelines to fix the problem. The production worker follows the instructions given by expert to fix the problem. In case a similar problem comes up in the future, the production worker will have to call the expert again as he won't be able to identify it as such. Hence, in contrast to the process of socialisation and exchange that have been mentioned earlier, this process does not involve the internalisation of knowledge by the other person. The second sub-process is referred to as routines (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004), which entails the use of knowledge that is contained in procedures, rules and norms to steer future behaviour (Grant, 2002). In terms of communication and compared to direction, routines economise on communication for they are contained in procedures and technologies (Grant, 2002). The aforementioned forms the basis of knowledge processes and the knowledge spiral model. The next section highlights the five main components that form the knowledge management infrastructure. Knowledge Management Infrastructure This forms the basis on which knowledge management resides and consists of five main entities including: organisational culture, organisation structure, information technology infrastructure, communities of practice and common knowledge (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). 43

54 Organisational Culture In every organisation, the behaviour of employees is guided by a set of norms and beliefs, which are referred to as organisational culture (Alvesson, 2012; Dalkir, 2011). Establishing the adequate organisational culture is increasingly being identified as one of the main challenges in implementing knowledge management initiatives (Alavi et al., 2005). A study conducted by Dyer and McDonough (2001), identifies four main challenges in knowledge management, firstly being that the employees in an organisation do not have time for knowledge management. Secondly, the already existing culture does not support knowledge sharing. Thirdly, the lack of awareness into knowledge management and the advantages it provides to an organisation and finally, the incapability of measuring the financial return from knowledge management. The second challenge directly related to organisational culture. It can also be argued that points one and three also relate to organisational culture for a supporting organisational culture aids in encouraging employees to understand the value that can be obtained from knowledge management and in return makes time for it (Dyer and McDonough, 2001). Indeed, encouraging employees to share their knowledge is considered one of the hardest parts of knowledge management (Koudsi, 2000). In an interview with Carla O'Dell, president of the American Productivity and Quality Centre, Koudsi (2000), found out that of the organisations trying to incorporate knowledge management, only 10% have succeeded in including it as part of their culture (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). It is difficult to get people to participate in knowledge sharing; nonetheless it is one of the crucial parts of knowledge management. Armbrecht et al. (2001) discuss attributes that facilitate organisational culture such as understanding the value of knowledge management practices, incentives and 44

55 rewards for knowledge sharing, support of interaction for the creation and sharing of knowledge and managerial support for knowledge management at all levels. Organisational culture that minimises employees interaction focuses on individual performance, and hoarding of information within organisational department (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004), and organisation in which top level management is not involved is a hostile environment for knowledge management in which knowledge sharing and retention is almost impossible. In addition, if people fear being accused of ignorance, they may be reluctant to ask others if they have the answer to a specific question, or do not feel comfortable placing a question for the whole company to view, is another sign of an inappropriate culture for knowledge sharing and management (Koudsi, 2000). DeTienne and Jackson (2001) provide an example of a baby good manufacturer in which strong competition between the corporate structure porhibited knowledge sharing that could have reflected in a tremendous increase of revenues. In this organisation, the performance of the frontline salespeople was judged based on that of other salespeople (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Hence, a group of sales people discovered a niche market and started selling baby food to adults who find it hard to chew and swallow, nonetheless, they kept this market base to themselves and their profits were significantly higher. Since this organisation provided incentives and rewards on a completion basis, and based on the wrong principles, it not only missed out on a potential increase in profits but also designing a product for a niche market that could increase their sales and in return their revenues. In contrast Koudsi (2000) provides an example of a successful CEO of a webconsulting organisation that put in place measures to encourage the use of the company's knowledge management system. To do so, he recognised employees 45

56 who were contributing to increasing the body of knowledge in public, in addition, he made the knowledge management system an integral part of each employees job description. Hence, it was formalised that knowledge management is a component they all need to take part in and are evaluated on. Furthermore, if employees posted information on the knowledge management system (e.g. their resume, project record etc.), they are given points, the number of points depend on the value of the information they provide. The knowledge manager acts as a judge to how many points each document posted receives depending on its value. The points were added up at the end of every 3 months and contribute 10% to the employees quarterly bonus. Therefore, implementing knowledge management initiatives almost always requires a cultural change to encourage a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration (Alvesson, 2012; Dalkir, 2011). The more the people are involved and informed of the benefit of this change, the less likely that they will oppose it. The foundation of a knowledge-sharing culture is built on trust, communication and involvement (Alavi et al., 2005; Sveiby and Simons, 2002). Corporate culture is an essential component to ensure that key knowledge and information flows within an organisation (Dalkir, 2011). Almost more important than the communication technologies that are implemented to facilitate knowledge sharing is the strength of the corporate culture and individual s commitment. In the past, knowledge flow was vertical from one level to another (Alvesson, 2012). Nonetheless, organisations nowadays need to change their culture to one that rewards the horizontal flow of knowledge as well (Alvesson, 2012). 46

57 Communication systems can support the development of such a culture (Bloom, 2000). For knowledge management to be successfully implemented, the process of creating knowledge should not be seen as proprietary or a single effort, instead it should been seen as a collaborative and participative undertaking (Dalkir, 2011). A knowledge sharing culture is one that views sharing as the norm, not the exception, where employees are motivated to work together, share and collaborate, and are rewarded for doing so. It requires a paradigm shift from knowledge is power to sharing knowledge is more powerful (Dalkir, 2011, p.186) and the culture will then determine what can be done with the knowledge assets of the organisation. Gruber and Duxbury (2001) conducted an intensive study to understand the link between organisational culture and knowledge sharing. Their study revealed that the majority of explicit knowledge was communicated through databases (55%), followed by 40% intranet, 28% face-to-face and 25% shared drive. On the difficulties of sharing explicit knowledge, the study determined was due to the implementation of different systems and no standards, the information was not located where it should be and the tools were not easy to use or not easily accessible. To facilitate explicit knowledge sharing, training programs on knowledge retrieval were suggested, in addition to having a clear and standard knowledge strategy and the standardisation of information technology used. With regards to tacit knowledge sharing (Gruber and Duxbury, 2001), face-to-face interaction was mostly utilised (90%), followed by informal networking (25%). The difficulties mentioned in sharing tacit knowledge were attributed towards the attitude of knowledge was power; hence people were hesitant to share. Moreover, difficulties such as identifying and locating expertise, being unsure if the knowledge exists and loss of knowledge when people leave the organisation were mentioned. To facilitate 47

58 the sharing tacit knowledge, it was suggested to recognise the value of tacit knowledge, improve relationships within the organisation, increase opportunity for people from different departments to connect and interact. Gruber and Duxbury (2001) concluded that a culture that supports knowledge sharing included the following: a rewards structure, openness and transparency, collaboration, trust and top management involvement. A more recent study by Ali et al. (2012) revealed that all of the organisations surveyed used information and communication tools to share knowledge. Nonetheless, the technologies were more used to exchange documents more than to connect employees or locate expertise. Technologies such as video-conferencing, teleconferencing and were used more than social networking tools. Nonetheless, the study concluded that social networking tools were effective tools to share tacit knowledge; however, studies need to be conducted on the critical success factors. Davison et al. (2013), supported these findings and recommendations in their study of information technology to support knowledge sharing. Organisation Structure Knowledge management also relies heavily on organisational structures (Mintzberg, 2011; Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). There are a couple of aspects to organisation structures that are important to mention: hierarchal structure, communities of practice and specialised structures. Each of these aspects will be discussed below. The hierarchal structure within organisations influences who interacts with whom and who is likely to transfer knowledge to whom (Alvesson, 2012). Traditional hierarchal structures influence the reporting process and in return the flow of data and information as well as, the groups who collectively make decisions, as a result 48

59 impacting the sharing and creation of knowledge (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Mintzberg, 2011). There is a movement nowadays towards decentralising or flattening organisational structures (Mintzberg, 2011; Jashapara, 2011), in this way the number of layers in the hierarchy are minimised, therefore putting more responsibility within each individual, in return arguably empowering them and the scope of the groups reporting to each individual is broadened (Dalkir, 2011). This way knowledge sharing is effective for the groups are larger and the structure is decentralised (Dalkir, 2011). In organisations like these, to facilitate better knowledge sharing and management it is also recommended to practice leading vs. managing to foster knowledge sharing across all different departments (Fernandez, et al. 2004). In addition, organisation structures can enable knowledge management through communities of practice (Wenger, 2004; Beamish et al., 2001). Storck and Hill (2000), give example of Xerox and how they formed a strategic community of information technology professionals where they interact on a regular basis amongst themselves, in return facilitating knowledge sharing. The benefit of communities of practice is that they allow a wider range of individuals than it is feasible within the scope of traditional departmental boundaries (Wenger, 2004). As a result, the number of potential helpers is higher; in return the probability of attaining valuable knowledge is higher. Furthermore, communities of practice are not only limited to within organisations, they also facilitate access to external sources of knowledge such as external stakeholders suppliers and partners (Dalkir, 2011). Choo (1998) argues that these external sources (e.g. customers and suppliers) provide a pool of knowledge as opposed to that of just the organisation. An example is the relationship between 49

60 biotechnology firms and university researchers, the universities assist the biotechnology industry in maintaining their innovativeness. The communities of practice are not often a part of the organisation's formal structure (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004), nonetheless senior management can enable them by providing support (Wenger, 2004) in terms of participation and by giving them a voice (i.e. listening to their point of views and going back to them for advise) as well as providing resources (e.g. money, connection to external experts and etc.). Finally, organisation structures can enable knowledge management through the adoption of specialised structures and roles that particularly sustain knowledge management. There are three different scenarios to achieve this (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004): 1. Hiring a chief knowledge management officer who is responsible for acquiring all information, storing and sharing it. In addition to being responsible for all knowledge management initiatives. 2. Formulating a department solely dedicated to knowledge management that is usually headed by the chief knowledge management officer (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). 3. Establishing two knowledge management units, the research and the corporate library and the development unit (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Each emphasises a different element; the research and development unit focuses on the management of knowledge related to all that is new and future enhancements and progress while the corporate library focuses on supporting 50

61 business departments by acting as a warehouse of backups and historical records about the organisation, industry and competition. Information Technology Infrastructure The information technology infrastructure also enables knowledge management (Hahn and Wang, 2009; Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Some information technology systems are designed solely for knowledge management, others are created to support the organisation's information system s needs. Nonetheless, it is important to note that they need to also be able to support knowledge management (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). The information technology infrastructure consists of: data processing, storage and communication technologies and systems (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). The information technology (IT) infrastructure spans through all functions from day-to-day functions in which transaction processing systems are used to strategic decision-making where business support systems and management information systems are used. To view the IT infrastructure in a systematic way is to observe the capabilities provided in four different aspects: reach, depth, richness and aggregation (Hislop, 2005; Evans and Wurster, 1999). The information technology infrastructure reach refers to the accessibility and the effectiveness of this access. In terms of networking it refers to the number of geographic locations of the nodes that can be reachable (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). The phrase reach may also be used to refer to being capable to connect to 'anyone, anywhere (Jashapara, 2011, p. 44). The increased interest in the internet is the ability to reach a huge range of people and the concept that people can connect to it at a reasonably cheap price (Vermaat, 2008). 51

62 In comparison with reach, depth refers to the amount of information and detail that can be effectively communicated over a medium (Vermaat, 2008; Hislop, 2005). In technical terms this is addressed as the bandwidth and customisation (Evans and Wurster, 1999; Vermaat, 2008). The higher the depth and amount of information, the higher the bandwidth required. A classification of communication channels can be performed along a scale based on its 'relative richness (Hislop, 2005). There are four angles that determine the richness of a medium (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004): 1. Presents various cues (posture, body language, tone of voice) 2. Presents prompt feedback 3. Provides personalised messages 4. Utilise natural language to convey subtleties Finally, the potential for aggregation, which refers to the ability to store and effectively process information from multiple sources (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Vermaat, 2008). Technologies such as data warehousing and data mining provides the ability of bringing together large volumes of data and information from different sources and providing it with meaning. Another example is the popular enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that are used as a base for bringing together knowledge various organisational departments. For instance, in an interview with Thomson (2000, p. 24), from Price Waterhouse Coopers, a senior executive comments: "We're moving quite quickly onto an intranet platform, and that's giving us a greater chance to integrate everything instead of saying to people, 'use the database 52

63 and that database and another database' Now it all looks (and is) much more coordinated" The role of information technology for knowledge management will be examined further in this next chapter. Common Knowledge Grant (2002) sheds light on another aspect of the knowledge management infrastructure that facilitate knowledge management and that is the common knowledge. Zander and Kogut (1995), refer to knowledge that is common as the organisation's overall, collective experiences in understanding a class of knowledge and activities and the overlying foundations that support communication and coordination. Moreover, common knowledge provides a sense of togetherness in the organisation through the use of familiar language and terminologies, and the awareness of each employee with each other's specialisations, shared cognitive plan and norms, as well as aspects of specific knowledge that is common across the people transferring knowledge (Grant, 2002; Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). By bringing together the knowledge of an individual with the knowledge of others, common knowledge increases the value of individual expert's knowledge (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). Nonetheless, since common knowledge based on its definition refers to knowledge that is common to a particular organisation, this enhancement in value is specific to that organisation and does not transfer to its competitors (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Therefore, Argote and Ingram (2000), argue that common knowledge encourages knowledge sharing within the organisation but hinders the sharing of outside the organisation (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). 53

64 Physical Environment The importance of the physical environment in organisations is often underappreciated, nonetheless is it is one of the key aspects of which knowledge management is built up from (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). The most crucial components of the physical environment entails the kind of offices and the number of them (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004), the way in which the meetings rooms are designed, and the overall design of the building. Physical environment can enable knowledge management by facilitating opportunities for employees to meet and share concepts and ideas. Areas such as coffee rooms, kitchens, water coolers and corridors all allow employee knowledge sharing and learning. Wensley (1998) reported in a study conducted that almost all employees felt that they acquired most of their knowledge that is in line with work from information conversations they had with other employees at meals or around water coolers as opposed to formal training or instructions booklet. Nowadays, organisations are considering the physical environment as a mean to foster communication, knowledge sharing and learning (Alvesson, 2012; Jashapara 2011). Some organisations specifically create spaces to allow this effective informal discussion. For instance, to enable major departments to engage in knowledge sharing, London Business School developed a communal space between these two departments (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Other organisations such as Reuters news service, established a kitchen on each floor to give room for employees to meet each other and share knowledge (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Stewart (2000) sheds light on a medium-sized company that pays particular attention to office locations to enable knowledge sharing. The offices are designed in an openplan way with clever arrangements to motivate knowledge interaction to occur. 54

65 Employees have the opportunity to have face-to-face interactions with other employees who can assist them. For instance, an employee can walk to get a question answered not by luck but because a small kitchenette area is located in which four different project team work areas intersect (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Once the knowledge management strategy is defined, and the processes and infrastructure are in place, organisations need to determine the impact of the knowledge management initiatives implemented and whether they deliver the anticipated benefits. This will be covered next. Determining the Impact of Knowledge Management Initiatives In any area of individual task or organisational performance, it is crucial to keep an eye on whether the initiatives are enabling the organisation or the individual to achieve underlying objectives (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). If an assessment did not exist, it would be difficult to tell the value of those initiatives and the improvements that needs to be made (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Alavi and Leidner, 2001). A knowledge management assessment is designed to evaluate the need for knowledge management solutions, the knowledge these solution can aid to discover, capture, share or apply, and the effect they have on individual or organisational performance (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Knowledge management assessments can be divided into three different ways: when knowledge management is assessed, how is knowledge management assessed and what aspects of knowledge management are assessed (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004; Fairchild, 2002). With regards to the timing of knowledge management assessment, an assessment could be done periodically to evaluate the 55

66 overall quality of knowledge management solutions (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). It could be done at the start of a knowledge management project to prove its significance and identify the gap in current knowledge management at the organisation. Finally, a knowledge management assessment could be done after a knowledge management project to determine the impacts of the project and to establish historical knowledge management performance that will enable the evaluation of the effects produced by the knowledge management project (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). The second way knowledge management assessment could be classified is in terms of the nature of knowledge management. There are two different methods to perform knowledge management assessments, qualitative and quantitative (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). The objective of the qualitative approach is to build a general understanding of what knowledge management efforts are working. In the contrary, the quantitative approach results in a specific number score indicating how well an organisation is performing with regards to knowledge management. Considering both, the qualitative approach is the recommended one during an organisation s early experience with knowledge management specifically when operating in uncertain environments. Finally, there are variances in the features of knowledge management that may be assessed (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004); here the focus is on the aspect under assessment. For instance the assessment of knowledge management solutions (Collison and Parcell, 2001), this involves the evaluation of the extent to which knowledge discovery, storage, transfer and application processes (Becerra- 56

67 Fernandez et al., 2004) are utilised and how well they are supported by knowledge management systems and technologies. The assessment of knowledge itself falls under this category, which entails: defining the different aspects of knowledge that are of relevance to the organisation, an assessment of the degree to which knowledge in each of these areas is accessible and consequently an assessment of the level and quality of available knowledge. Moreover, a vital feature of knowledge management assessment is the value each area of knowledge contributes to the organisation (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004); these can be expressed in tangible and intangible measures. The last assessment that belongs to this category is the assessment of impacts. Knowledge management solutions and the knowledge they enable to create, store, transfer and apply can affect a person, processes and overall competitivness of the organisation (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Hence, a knowledge management assessment not only includes the evaluation of knowledge management solutions and knowledge but also an evaluation of their impact on employees, processes, products and organisational performance as a whole (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). A scan of the literature revealed that the researchers use two mechanisms to identify an assessment framework for knowledge management, either by using key process areas (Ehms and Langen, 2002; Kochikar, 2000; Paulzen and Perc, 2002; Kullkarni and Freeze, 2004; Kilmko s, 2001; Weerdmeester et al., 2003; Mohany and Chand, 2004) or critical success factors (Robinson et al., 2006; Skyrme, 2007; Mohammadi et al., 2009) while the vast mass opt for key process areas. Almost each areas identified correspond to the key components of knowledge management (people, process and technology), which is a positive sign of their relevance, 57

68 comprehensiveness and thoroughness. Other key process areas, which were not mentioned in the components and could be embodied, are culture and organisation. On the other hand the critical success factors touch on elements of trust, top management support and motivation. Furthermore, the majority of the existing knowledge management frameworks adopted their initial structure from the capability maturity model (CMM) provided by software engineering which is organised at five levels, the functions of which are to prioritise the increase of a software process maturity (Khatiban et al., 2010; Ehms and Langen, 2002; Kochikar, 2000; Paulzen and Perc, 2002; Kullkarni and Freeze, 2004). The limitations of this approach is that although for each level, key process areas are identified, these areas only specify the items that are correlated activities that satisfy a set of substantial goals to improve the effectiveness of the area if they all around done together i.e. all at once (Khatiban et al., 2010). In response to this limitation, there was a rise of two different models, the capability maturity model integrated (CMMI) and the people-capability maturing model (P-CMM). As opposed to the CMM, the CMMI provides a phased and continuous representation. The P- CMM integrates human resources with organisation structure and brings them to maturation. A study by Khatiban et al. (2010) used CMMI as a base model to develop a framework for measuring knowledge management maturity level in organisations. The study identified and extracted 8 factors (IT, strategy, human resources, organisation structure, process, culture, leadership and evaluations) and 42 variables that affect knowledge management and consequently developed a 58

69 knowledge management maturity model. The maturity position of an organisation in knowledge management is determined by defining existing status of factors and variables, and from the prioritisation of factors and variables enabling the organisation to optimise its profile. Another factor that distinguished this study is the use of critical success factors as opposed to key process areas. The limitations however, is the applicability of the framework, the framework is relatively new and has only been applied to two organisations (one public and one private) of the same industry that produces software products. There are other approaches which are and could be used for knowledge management assessment. These include benchmarking for example or the balanced score card (Fairchild, 2002; Gooijer, 2000) which maintains the adequate combination between short and long term goals, financial and non-final aspects, lagging and leading indicators and external and internal perspectives (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). It examines four different perspectives, customer, financial, internal business and learning and growth (Tiwana, 2002). For knowledge management assessment, the initial step entails interpreting the KM vision, the next step entails business planning (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). Another two approaches which recognise the significance of studying the intangible knowledge include the Intangible Assets Monitor framework and the Skanadia Method (Becerra- Fernandez et al., 2004). Furthermore, an overall approach for KM assessment is the real options approach, which illustrates knowledge management initiatives as a portfolio of investments (Tiwana, 2002). Finally, the EFQM excellence model that illustrates that in order to achieve results, innovation and learning leadership, people, policy and strategy, partnership and resources and processes should be in place. 59

70 Thus far, the underlying principals and various literatures on knowledge and knowledge management have been established. Knowledge management has been defined, the strategies, processes, infrastructure, maturity models and assessments frameworks has been examined. The next section observes the growing trends, opportunities and challenges in the field of knowledge management in the Arab region. Knowledge Management in the Arab Region and the Case of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) As it has been established in earlier sections, in the current global and competitive environment, knowledge has been identified as one of the critical assets and sources of success and wealth. Therefore, the area of knowledge management has rapidly gained significant interest from both the public and private sectors. This is evident in the number of research studies particularly addressing how to facilitate the creation and transfer of knowledge within organisations (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011). In addition, how to adopt systems that can protect this knowledge from loss in today s work environment that is very diverse and mobile. As a result, private and public organisations realise the importance of creating and sharing knowledge and are implementing knowledge management programs and strategies. Nonetheless, until the recent financial crisis and outburst, knowledge management gained less attention in the Arab world and there is a dearth of existing research on this topic in the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011; Skok and Tahir, 2010; Boumarafi and Jabnoun, 2008). Governments in developed countries, specifically members of the OECD rolled-out many initiatives to encourage the utilisation of knowledge in work organisations, 60

71 since early 2000 (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011). Moreover, annual surveys of these countries public and private organisations have been conducted to reveal that knowledge management is one of the main drivers for organisational effectiveness as it addresses economic problems such as retiring workforce or losses related to high turnovers. Upon considering the utilisation and transfer of knowledge, many organisations realised that they possess more knowledge than they are aware of (OECD, 2003). As a result of the recent global and institutional performance problems, both government entities and private sector firms are seeking ways to develop, integrate and manage human capital and knowledge resources in a more sustainable and strategic way (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011). In particular, the GCC countries (including: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) have inherited key challenges in terms of the creation and management of knowledge. These include: lack in national skills and knowledge resources (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011), dependence on large number of foreign workforce and addressing the knowledge-skill gap necessary for the implementation of economic development goals (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011). The region was partly able to afford this as a result of the abundance in financial resources, improved living and working conditions and the greater integration into the global economy (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011). Nonetheless, this is no longer the case given the changed conditions for instance the decreasing monetary allocation to major expansion projects and human resource development (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011), the talents leaving many sectors, and the goal of nationalising the workforce. This shed light on the limitations of prior approaches to organisation and management developed activities implemented by 61

72 both the private and public sectors in the GCC region (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011; Al-Yahya, 2010). These emerging conditions brought rise to many questions regarding the significance of how knowledge, in its various forms and sources, is captured, organised, stored, shared, and used to achieve strategic goals. As demonstrated in the Arab Knowledge Report (2009), knowledge has been identified as the trigger to growth and development. Therefore, to maximise the potential of knowledge for sustainable performance, effective knowledge management is important for work organisations as well as the society as a whole. Of significant value, to GCC countries, is the strategic management of knowledge. Ample investments have been made to develop and attract knowledge resources and human capital through training, education and research. However, despite the aforementioned investments and efforts, current studies identify that there has been low return with regards to the capture and transfer of knowledge, in addition to improved performance. A major finding is the remarkably high level of underutilisation of skills and knowledge, specifically in the public sector (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011). The levels of underutilisation reached 47% in Saudi Arabia, 45 % in Oman and 42% in UAE (Al-Yahya, 2009). This demonstrates how approximately half the available knowledge resources and skill is not adequately recognised and used for achieving organisational objectives. In addition, the GCC countries have been fortunate in terms of appealing to international expertise and talents, which enabled the region to build the necessary foundation and infrastructure (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011). Nonetheless, these sources of knowledge eventually leave the local markets, taking the experience and knowledge they had acquired with them (Al-Yahya, 2010). As a result, this leads to considerable loss for local organisations. 62

73 There is a dearth of literature on the subject of knowledge management in developing countries (Biygautane and Al-Yahya, 2011). A search of electronic and print resources available revealed a limited number of studies on knowledge management initiatives or practices in developing countries. Moreover, only three of these studies were in the UAE. One of the highest per capita income in the Arab world in general and Middle East in specific is owned by the UAE. Moreover, comparatively the information and communication technology infrastructure is well-developed. The countries economy is highly reliant on oil that is a diminishing resource of economic development. The UAE authorities are aware of this fact and have thus initiated the diversification of the country s economic resources, by seeking development from a knowledge management perspective. Henceforth, policies have been revised to increase knowledge attributes and know-how in order to improve peoples lives in myriad ways (World Bank Report, 1999). As a result of the aforementioned, knowledge development objectives have been embedded in the public policy agenda and the 2021 vision for the Government of Abu-Dhabi. Government entities in Abu-Dhabi were mandated to incorporate the latest knowledge management practices and tools contributing towards the vision of the government of Abu-Dhabi (to be one of the world s leading governments and to create a sustainable knowledge economy). The Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) took the lead and is the first government entity to launch a knowledge management framework in collaboration with Abu-Dhabi, AlAin and Western Zone municipalities. If deemed successful the framework will be adopted across all Abu-Dhabi government organisations. 63

74 The next section observes the growing trends, opportunities and challenges to the field of knowledge management in general. Knowledge Management Current Status, Limitations and Challenges Knowledge management integrates, people, processes, and technology to ensure performance for sustainable growth (Gorelick et al., 2005). Provided that a major amount of organisational knowledge exists in the mind-sets of employees, it is important to establish an adequate environment and platform for employees to share knowledge (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 2001, Newell et al., 2009). In return, fostering higher performance, innovation and organisational competitiveness. In the past, a fair proportion of knowledge management initiatives were driven by technology and the people component was almost negligent (Sinclair, 2007; Tsui, 2005). Naturally, this led to huge failures and losses (Hahn and Wang, 2009). Therefore, it could be observed that the knowledge management literature is moving away from focusing on the explicit dimensions of knowledge to the tacit dimension of knowledge which is a more interactive, people-centred approach in knowledge sharing (Hazlett et al., 2005). An additional shift that is notable is in the discipline of knowledge management itself, it is undergoing a paradigm shift from a static knowledge-warehouse approach towards a more dynamic communication-based or network approach (Kuhlen, 2003). Finally the current knowledge management literature focuses more and more on the value of interactive knowledge management web technologies (taking the form of virtual communities) in incorporating the human aspects to knowledge management initiatives and solutions (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009). This will be explored and built on in the next chapter, discussing the role 64

75 information and communication technologies can play in supporting knowledge management processes, the opportunities, challenges and limitations. 65

76 Chapter 4- Information and Communication Technologies and Knowledge Management Information and communication technologies are defined as technologies which allow/facilitate the management and/or sharing of knowledge and information. Thus the term covers an enormous diversity of heterogeneous technologies including computers, telephones, , databases, data-mining systems, search engines, the internet and video-conferencing equipment (Hislop, 2005, p.105). The importance of the role given to information and communication technologies has dominated the early knowledge management literature (Grundstein, 2013; Scarbrough and Swan, 2001). This could be observed in two ways; firstly, the way authors have placed information communication technologies at the core of all early knowledge management literature and how optimistic they were about its contributions to knowledge management processes (Jashapara, 2011). A study conducted by Scarborough and Swan (2001), revealed that 68% of the literature on early knowledge management focused on information technology and systems. Secondly, there is evidence of the major role information communication technologies played in the implementation of knowledge management initiatives (Sinclair, 2007). A survey revealed that the four most implemented knowledge projects included the deployment of data warehouses, decision support tools, groupware and intranets (Ali et al., 2012; Edwards et al., 2003; Ruggles, 1998). Although these perspectives were heavily criticised, this did not result on a position where information communication technologies were deemed to have no helpful role. As a matter of fact, there is a move towards conceptualising the relationship between 66

77 information communication technologies and knowledge management processes (Hislop, 2005). This point will be discussed further on in the chapter. Characterizing Information and Communication Technology Supported Knowledge Management processes Ample has been written on bringing together information communication technologies and knowledge management processes (Alavi and Leidner, 2001; Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Hahn and Wang, 2009; Hendricks, 2001) and when grouped they constitute of either an objectivist perspective or a practice-based perspective (Hislop, 2005). Objectivist Perspective There are some key assumptions underlying the objectivist perspective that in return effect the way information communication technologies can play a role to support knowledge management processes. The objectivist perspective views knowledge as an object that exists in an explicit form or can be easily codified and shared (Grundstein, 2013; Steinmueller, 2000). In this manner, the objectivist perspective views information and communication technologies as having a straightforward role in knowledge management processes (Hislop, 2005). It views information and communication technologies as a channel that enables knowledge sharing (Scarborough and Swan, 2001). First, knowledge is codified and stored, and then this organisational knowledge is managed enabling users to disseminate, search, utilise, create and integrate knowledge. For instance using search engines to locate people within directories of expertise. Although there was a strong focus on information and communication technologies and this perspective was adopted and acknowledged in the past, a huge number of technology led knowledge management initiatives failed (Kuo and Lee, 2011). This 67

78 could be attributed to their emphasis on technology alone without keeping in mind the cultural, social and political factors surrounding these projects (Butler and Murphy, 2007; Kuo and Lee, 2011; Massey et al., 2002). While the objectivist perspective on knowledge management have been heavily criticised due to the vast number of failures, there is still evidence that organisations are still adopting this approach of technology focus in their knowledge management initiatives (Morris, 2001; Robertson, 2002; van der Velden, 2002), nonetheless less common than it was in the mid 1990 s. This perspective has been criticised for various reasons: firstly, it overestimates the level to which tacit knowledge can be made modifiable. Secondly, it underestimates the level to which explicit and tacit knowledge are inseparable. Thirdly, this perspective underestimates the level to which organisation knowledge is fragmented. Fourthly, it underestimates the level to which knowledge is context-dependent and finally, this perspective is criticised for its over-confidence on the ability for knowledge to be gathered in a central repository (Kuo and Lee, 2011; Hahn and Wang, 2009; Hislop, 2005). This brought rise to the practice-based perspective on knowledge (Jashapara, 2011; Hislop, 2005; Empsom, 2001; Suchman, 2003; Walsham, 2001). Practice-based perspective The practice-based perspective views information communication technologies as having a less direct yet equally important role in facilitating and supporting the social process that form the basis for knowledge processes (Jashapara, 2011; Empson, 2001; Suchman, 2003; Walsham, 2001). Practice-based perspective enables interpersonal knowledge sharing via the use of different forms of communication and interaction mediums. For the communication process to be effective the interactions needs to be rich, open, and there should be an element of trust (Walsham, 2001). 68

79 However, when it comes to the role information and communication technology play in knowledge management processes there does not seem to be an agreement within the practice-based perspective. This will be discussed in the section below. Debates within the practice-based approach regarding information and communication technologies and knowledge management processes The first point of debate is with regards to the richness of interaction and whether information and communication technologies can facilitate it. Rich interaction is important for the process of perspective making and taking (Boland et al., 1994). Some writers believe that information and communication technologies enhance the process of perspective making and taking (Walsham, 2001; Boland et al., 1994; DeSanctis and Monage, 1999) whilst other writers are doubtful (Goodall and Roberts, 2003; Roberts, 2000; Symon, 2000; McLoughlin and Jackson, 1999). Walsham (2001) considers interactive information and communication technologies as a potential mean for providing rich interaction, in return enabling the process of perspective making and taking. Boland et al. (1994, p.457) also advocates this view and suggests that information technology systems could be designed to enable this by stating information technology can support distributed cognition by enabling individuals to make rich representation of their understanding, reflect upon those representations, engage in dialogue with others about them, and use them to inform action. Nonetheless, Boland et al. (1994) argue that in order to achieve this, major transformation in information system design philosophies is required. This is in line with the findings suggested from recent studies (Hahn and Wang, 2009; Grundstein, 2013; Ali et al., 2012; Sinclair, 2007). DeSanctis and Monge (1999, p. 696), are also in favour of information and communication technologies arguing that instead of the loss of social cues that happen when communicating by most information and communication technologies being perceived as negative, that actually such a loss 69

80 may facilitate understanding by as they put it removing the distraction of irrelevant stimuli. Nonetheless, there are some scholars that question the richness of interaction that information and communication technology provide (Goodall and Roberts, 2003; Roberts, 2000; Symon, 2000; McLoughlin and Jackson, 1999) mainly due to the lack of social cues such as gestures, tone of voice, body language and facial expression arguing that the lack of these cues result in the degradation of the communication process and in return, restricts the knowledge that can be shared by such channels (Goodall and Roberts, 2003; Roberts, 2000; Symon, 2000). On another note, it is argued that rich knowledge sharing in virtual communities only happens when preexisting social relationship between people exists (McLoughlin and Jackson, 1999). Other authors (Maznevski and Chudoba, 1999; Hislop, 2005; Jashapara, 2011) take a different stance, suggesting that whilst alone information and communication technologies may provide restricted potential to facilitate richness of communication, they could be combined with face-to-face interactions to enhance the richness. Similarly, a study conducted by Maznevski and Chudoba (1999, p.473) concluded that effective global virtual teams generate a deep rhythm of regular face-to-face interaction incidents interspersed with less intensive, shorted incidents using various media. As it can be observed from the above discussion, the features of face-to-face interactions are different than the ones from electronically mediated communications. Moreover, different information and communication technologies have different features. Nonetheless, the features and level of information richness of different information and communication channels is debatable (Hislop, 2005). 70

81 The Information Richness Theory is found in the information system literature and is used as a framework to define a communications medium by its capability to reproduce the information sent over it (Daft, 1986). According to Information Richness Theory, mediums could be ranked with regards to the degree of information richness. In this context, face-to-face interaction is the richest and s are the least rich. Hislop (2005) incorporated the mediums, features and ranking of these mediums in a table describing the least rich medium and highest rich medium along with their communication features (figure 3). However, in the process of establishing this, Hislop (2005) placed a question mark besides the ranking arrow as this theory has been increasingly criticised. The idea of assuming that each channel of communication has a fixed and objective information richness feature was not accepted by theorists. Ngwenyama and Lee (1997, p.148) argued that leanness or richness of any communication process depends on the interaction between the people, and the organisational context. They argue that the social and technical factors underlie the richness of any communication process including: the interest of people in making an effort to communicate, the level of mutual understanding between people and the competency of people in using communication channels (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Ngwenyama and Lee, 1997; DeSanctis and Monge, 1999). Hence, channels that are identified as low rich mediums such as s can be used to discuss complex, information rich interactions if the organisational environment supports it or people become competent in utilising it. 71

82 Medium Communication Characteristics Suitable for sharing of highly codified knowledge Relatively low information richness (all social cues lost) Inexpensive (cost, unrelated to geographic proximity) Asynchronous, with variable feedback speed Spontaneous/information interactions possible irrespective of geographic proximity Permanent record of interaction exists Development of trust based on alone difficult Telephone Intermediate information richness (tone of voice conveys some social cues, but gesture, expression invisible. Also, synchronous, facilitating detailed immediate feedback) Cost variable Spontaneous/informal interactions possible irrespective of geographical proximity Can facilitate development of trust where face-to-face interaction is difficult Video Conferencing Information rich (social cues, and virtually real time, synchronous medium) Expensive to set up Set up time inhibits spontaneity Face-to-Face Interaction Information rich (social cues such as facial expression, voice, gesture visible. Plus, synchronous communication, potential for rapid high-quality feedback/interaction) Most relevant for sharing of tacit knowledge Spontaneous/informal interactions possible when people geographically proximate Conditions amendable to development of trust (other factors excluded) Expensive when people geographically dispersed Figure 3: Increasing Information Richness? (Source: Hislop (2005,p.113) In addition organisational factors such as organisational culture could influence the communication channel used and the way it is utilised (Alvesson, 2012; Alavi et al., 2005). For instance channels may be used more often in organisational cultures that stress the importance of documentation and accountability (Hislop, 2005). In the contrary, face-to-face interactions and telephone channels may be 72

83 used in organisational cultures that encourage openness and team work (Hislop, 2005). Another area of debate, relates to a point mentioned above, and that is how much trust can be established and maintained in social relations that are facilitated by information and communication channels of communication (Butler and Murphy, 2007). It is debated that face-to-face interactions not only yield a better understanding of each other but also extends to the level of trust developed and maintained. Some authors go as far as identifying face-to-face interaction as an essential element to develop trust (Roberts, 2000). In studying teams a study revealed that the teams who met occasionally face-to-face in addition to the electronically mediated interactions enhanced the level of trust between members (Maznevski and Chudoba, 1999). Another study of global virtual teams who communicated via desktop video conferencing, multimedia and revealed that the lack of co-location resulted in a significant effect on trust development (Nandhakumar, 1999). The study concluded that ICTs alone are not adequate to develop and maintain trust at work (Nandhakumar, 1999). On the contrary, there are some authors (Hossain et al., 2004; Kuo and Lee, 2011; Butler et. al, 2007; Pauleen and Yoong, 2001; Jarvenpaa and Leidner, 1999) that suggest that developing and maintaining relationships that are totally information and communication technology mediated is feasible. A study of the role of information and communication technologies for relationship building in virtual teams revealed that social relations can be established and maintained amongst strangers through the strategic utilisation of various electronic communication channels such as , video conferencing and telephone (Pauleen and Yoong, 2001). It is suggested that the suitable communication channels depends on the organisational context such as 73

84 culture and norms and there needs to be an alignment between organisational context and the channel of communication selected (Pauleen and Yoong, 2001). Javenpaa and Leidner (1999) conducted a study of virtual teams separated in terms of time and culture, individuals who have not met before and have not had an opportunity to have a face-to-face interaction. In their study, they examined the relationship between team members and they have realised that there was as element of trust developed at an early stage of a group life, yet this type of trust was fragile. However, there are some behaviours that team members can show to help maintain the trust over time. For instance, behaviours such as communicating and showing willingness and enthusiasm in the task at hand at an early stage of a group foster the development of trust. At later stages of a group life, behaviours such as maintaining timely responses help foster trust. Hence, the authors conclude that there are some certain behaviours and actions that if team members were committed to and practiced, trust can be established by the use of information and communication technologies. Implementation of Information and Communication Technology Based Knowledge Management Systems Contrary to the traditional, general purpose information systems, that are used to store large amount of data and organise them into specific format and outcome to achieve higher level of operational performance, knowledge management systems were created to support organisational knowledge management activities (Kuo and Lee, 2011; Quaddus and Xu, 2005; Alavi and Leidner, 2001). They are developed to help organisations capture, store, retrieve and distribute knowledge (Kuo and Lee, 2011; Alavi and Leidner, 2001). In order to do so, knowledge management systems 74

85 comes with knowledge management related tools such as database management systems, intranets and groupware. Table 4 highlights the main knowledge management tools used to support knowledge management. Table 4: Knowledge Management Tools (Source: Gallupe, 2001, p. 65) Intranets Information retrieval programs Database management Private internet-based networks using Web-browsers to share knowledge. Tools to search corporate knowledge/data bases as well as external knowledge sources to provide access to a wide variety of knowledge. Combine with intranets and information network tools to provide a platform to build specific knowledge management tools. systems Document management Provide the means for capturing, storing, and distributing knowledge in the form of documents as opposed to discrete data. software Groupware Software and hardware that enables workgroups to communicate and collaborate. Groupware tools typically have features that enable groups to perform such tasks as generating ideas (create new knowledge) and reaching consensus. Intelligent agents Software programs that can filter out the knowledge that the user really needs. This may be particularly important in knowledge-intensive situations where particular knowledge sources need to be monitored. Knowledge-based or expert systems Store the knowledge of experts in the form of rules or cases and then provide that knowledge to novices or other experts. Each of these tools is tied to an organisational knowledge management process (table 5) and it is argued that this leads to better decision-making, higher productivity and sustained competitive advantage (Nevo and Chan, 2007). Therefore, organisations started adopting these knowledge management systems and tools by making substantial investments (Tseng, 2008; O Brien and Marakas, 2006). 75

86 Table 5: Knowledge Management Processes and IT Artefacts (Source: Butler et. al, 2007, p.2) Knowledge management IT Artefacts IT Platform processes Knowledge Creation Data mining and learning tools Groupware and Knowledge Storage and Retrieval Knowledge Transfer Knowledge Application Electronic Bulletin boards, knowledge repositories, Databases Electronic bulletin boards, Discussion Forums, Knowledge Directories Expert Systems, Workflow system communication technologies + Intranets However, the implementation of knowledge management systems resulted in a high failure rate (Hahn and Wang, 2009). Hislop (2005) identifies two potential reasons for this failure; firstly, information and communications technologies were not suited for the knowledge related functions that the system was designed for. This point relates to the practice-based perspective critique of the objectivist perspective indicating that the early information and communication initiative underestimated the challenges of codifying tacit knowledge. The second potential reason of failure of earlier information and technology initiatives for knowledge management is in that the design and implementation of these systems was not appropriate. The people aspect was undermined and if they would be willing to share their knowledge, which is a crucial aspect to the success of knowledge management initiatives (Hahn and Wang, 2009; Storey and Quintas, 2001; Hauschild et al., 2001; Ribiere, 2001; Hislop, 2005; Empson, 2001; Flood et al., 2001; Morris, 2001). The undermining of the people aspect meant not enough consideration was given to the social and cultural context that the system will be implemented in (Hahn and Wang, 2009; Scarborough and Carter, 2000). The focus 76

87 is more on the technology for instance the process of storing knowledge instead of the willingness or ability of people to store the knowledge in these systems (Hislop, 2005). The issues are not limited to the implementation of knowledge management systems only, for instance Symon (2000) commented on the use of these systems and pointed out that one should not assume that people will be willing to use these systems. On a similar note, not aligning the social conditions of the local context may result in the system being underused (Orlikowski, 2002). On the other hand, McDermott (1999) argues that not considering the social and cultural issues when designing and implementing information technology systems, will present the risk of reinforcing instead of transforming current cultures, behaviours and values. Nonetheless, since each organisation is different in nature it is difficult to provide a standardised list of guidelines that organisations need to follow to implement successful initiatives (Hislop, 2005). Considering social-cultural context means looking into the distinct features of each organisation and adapting your processes and systems around them. To increase the understanding of the socio-cultural factors surrounding the organisation, Walsham (2001) recommends reflecting on the existing organisational culture and the type of current knowledge sharing processes it encourages and discourages. In addition, reflect upon the existing power relations and how they impact the knowledge process (Walsham, 2001). Upon reflection of these angles, organisations would be able to design and implement adequate information and communication technology systems that consider the socio-cultural factors (Hahn and Wang, 2009). 77

88 An alternative design philosophy Despite the aforementioned challenges, scholars still see a role that information and communication technologies can play in the process of knowledge management (Hahn and Wang, 2009; Butler and Murphy, 2007; Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Alavi and Leidner, 2001). However, they acknowledge that achieving this will require a major transformation of focus in system design philosophies (Hislop, 2005; Butler and Murphy, 2007; Davenport and Pursak, 2000; Tenkasi and Boland, 1996). This is due to the objectivist perspective being adopted in organisations despite the amount of criticism it has been subjected to (Schultze and Leidner, 2002). This is apparent from the way knowledge is considered as an object that can be transmitted via the means of word and language with fixed meaning and by assuming that consensus is present in knowledge-based organisations, hence knowledge-sharing is unproblematic. Also, the systems that are in place are based on a transmitter and receiver model, this model suggests that knowledge is shared by the transferal of explicit, codified knowledge (in the form of text, diagram or an electronic document and etc.) from an isolated sender to a separate receiver (Hislop, 2005, p.22). From this objectivist perspective, the focus of system design is on developing communication mediums that maximise richness of information and eliminate noise levels (Bolisani and Scarso, 2000). However, from a practice-based perspective the focus should be on developing processes of perspective making/taking between people and the fact that people have a lot of knowledge in communication should not be assumed (Tenkasi and Boland, 1996; Hislop, 2005). In return this requires the development of open systems that enable the browsing and sharing of different interpretations, taken for granted values and assumptions (Hislop, 2005). 78

89 Current knowledge management literature focuses on the value of interactive knowledge management technologies (taking the form of virtual communities) in incorporating the human side into knowledge management solutions (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009). The most prominent examples include blogs, wikis; these two together with other social media are called Web 2.0 technologies or social networking tools. Given the fluid nature and characteristics of such technologies it is argued that they provide a nurturing platform for participation in knowledge sharing and responds to the obstacles in the current technologies used within organisations (Sinclair, 2007; McAfee, 2006; Schneckenberg, 2009; Martin et al., 2009; Paroutis and Saleh, 2009; Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008). Hence, it is argued traditional hindrances to sharing knowledge could be overcome (Sinclair, 2007). Given these advantages, organisations are increasingly starting to adopt these Web 2.0 technologies and social networking tools internally for knowledge management (Paroutis and Saleh. 2009). In the next section, the background, features and rationale of these web technologies will be discussed. The Evolution of the Web and its Impact on Knowledge Management The Web is one of the most popular services on the Internet. It is associated as a global library of information that is made available to anyone connected to the internet (Vermaat, 2008). Hence, the presence of the web revolutionised the practice of information sharing, retrieval and communication. Nonetheless, up until recent years, the potential of web technology based knowledge management has not been fully realized. A study by Zhang in the year 2000 concluded that the current webbased knowledge at that that time was at a lower level. 79

90 The web was originally created to be a text and repository for human use. Its striking expansion nevertheless has initiated a significant increase in the expectations for web-based information retrieval, knowledge sharing and collaborative working (Dostika and Patrick, 2006). Although the web did not go through an update in technical specifications, it has undergone cumulative changes in the ways end-users and software developers use the web. Formerly, the web connected people to a public and shared environment but did not allow direct communication between web readers and writers unless writers willingly released their contact information (Ding, 2007). A vast number of people around the world use the web as a mean to share personal information, videos and photos. Making a web page available or publishing it for all people in the internet to see is a service available to all and in some instances at no cost at all (Vermaat, 2008). The second web evolution (web 2.0) is what is witnessed now (2013), not only are individuals connected to the web but these individual users are connected together through the web platform. It addresses the previous gap between web readers and writers (Ding, 2007). The collective set of tools used to emphasise activities of collaboration, sharing and end-users is called social networking tools or social media (Dostika and Patrick, 2006). Worldwide millions of people are joining online communities, each called social networking web site. These websites motivate members to share their interests, ideas, studies, photos, music and videos with other registered users. Another hundreds of people today also use blogs for instance to publish their thoughts on the web which is an informal website set similar to articles in a diary or journal (Vermaat, 2008). Podcasts are another popular way people verbally share information on the Web. In relation to the push and pull knowledge 80

91 management strategies, in the past organisations involved online corporate yellow pages as a tool to find experts in specific areas and document management systems. With the advent of IBM s Lotus Notes, and other collaborative technologies in the late 90 s, knowledge management technologies expanded beyond business directories and document management. This followed more of the pull strategy for knowledge management. In recent times, with the evolution of the web and the development of social computing tools such as blogs that allowed a more amorphous, self-governing approach to the creation, capture and transfer of knowledge, making them belong more towards the pull strategy (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009). One cannot be certain what the next stage of the web evolution is but there is a move towards a semantic web, once it s matured it is aimed at connecting virtual representatives of real people who use the web (Sun et al., 2009). This in return will maximise the exploration of web resources (Ding, 2007). Figure 4 captures and summarizes the evolution of the web and the increasing role given to users in communicating, publishing content and knowledge. Figure 4: The Evolution of the Web (Ding, 2007) 81

92 To sum up, over the past few years we have witnessed a shift in how people have used the web as it evolved from a tool for publishing information and conducting business to a platform enabling novel ways of information sharing, communication and collaboration. This shift has brought rise to the term Enterprise 2.0 which is defined as the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers (McAfee, 2006, p.1). Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management Over the past 6-7 years, the emerging electronic social applications made their way to the business environment. This swift movement and popularity could be mainly attributed to the accessibility of laptops, cheap internet access, rise of working from home behaviour and the diminishing of traditional concept of office hours (van Zyl, 2009; Shirky, 2008; Tapscott and Williams, 2006). A study conducted to examine the degree that social media sites are being used for work purposes revealed that 83% of the US office workers utilised office resources to access social media, 30% of office workers in the USA and 43% of UK office workers stated that they used social media applications to discuss work-related issues and 40.8% of IT and business decision makers identified that they view social media as relevant to today s business environment (ClearSwift, 2007). Another global survey conducted by McKinsey (2007) revealed that 75% of executives indicated that their organisations have invested and will either maintain or increase their investments in Web 2.0 tools that will facilitate social networking behaviour such as user collaboration and peer exchange in business. Why are these new technologies particularly noteworthy? McAfee (2006) answers this question by comparing the old technologies to the new technologies and 82

93 providing two reasons. Firstly, identifying that the users were not happy with the old channels ( and person-to-person instant messaging) and platforms (intranets, corporate websites and information portals) available to them. This is backed up by a survey conducted by Davenport (2001) that revealed that although all knowledge workers use s, 26% of them felt it was overused in their organisation, 21% felt overwhelmed by it and 15% felt that it actually decreases their productivity. Another survey conducted by Forrester Research revealed that only 44% find their corporate intranet easy to navigate and locate information that is required. The second point McAfee (2006) provides is that the old technologies do not capture their knowledge well, indicating that as knowledge workers are conducting their jobs, they use channels regularly and browse both internal (intranet) and external platforms (internet). Nonetheless, the channels can t be accessed or searched by anyone else, and visit to platforms leave no traces. Furthermore, only a small percentage of most people s output winds up on a common platform (McAfee, 2006, p.22). Thus, the channels and platform in use aren t much good at providing answers to such questions as (McAfee, 2006, p.22): what s the right way to approach this analysis, does a template exist for it and who is working on a similar problem right now?. McAfee (2006) argues that the new technologies are not limited to capturing knowledge itself but focuses on the knowledge worker s practices and output. Sinclair (2007) also justifies the worthiness of these technologies as more adaptable with the changes in works habits and he also compares them to previous technologies. He describes past technologies as formal technology solutions that impose formal business structures and rules whilst knowledge management is far too fluid and broad of a concept to be wrapped around a technology solution. Having said that, Sinclair (2007) believes there should and can be a role for information 83

94 technology in knowledge management if applied appropriately. He argues while will remain a main tool for one-to-one communication, there is less focus on as a collaboration tool of choice and that organisations are adopting new technologies to manage their real-time virtual workplace, such as wikis and blogs. Examples of such organisation are Walt Disney Corp., Eastman Kodak, and the US Army. Sinclair (2007, p. 259) concludes that these new technologies introduce less formalised structure to the implementation of knowledge management in organisations, contrary to the rigid centralized control, and rules of use. However, noteworthy to mention, their different approaches to structure, do not mean that enterprise 2.0 technologies are incompatible with older ones. They can be added to the channels and platforms already in place (McAfee, 2006, p.26). Existing channels and platforms can be enhanced by adding the SLATES features. SLATES is an acronym introduced by McAfee (2006) to distinguish the key features of these new technologies and their potential in corporate contexts: Search: corresponds to the efficiency of users to locate dispersed information in the internet Links: corresponds to the use of links to build thorough interconnections between the information content across collaborating enterprises Authoring: refers to the user-driven content development and publishing across the organisation Tags: refers to the establishment of a peer-driven classification and validation of online content across collaborating enterprises 84

95 Extensions: involves drawing out from previously gathered data of user activities to enable users to be advised to initiate other valuable activities. For instance, the option in Amazon, indicating the "other customers who purchased this book also purchased these books" Signal: involves sending alerts to users of the changing state of an element of interest for example the online status of other users in instant messaging clients Van Zyl (2009, p.909) also sheds light on the criteria, components and requirements of these technologies. He identifies that they should firstly support social networking and this can be defined as, applications or websites that support the maintenance of personal relationships, the discovery of potential relationships and should aid in the conversion of potential ties into weak and strong ties. This leads to the second requirement, they should allow social feedback. For a person to determine whether he/she wants to establish a connection with another person he/she need some form of social feedback or a digital reputation. It enables other users to rate the contributions of others. With a digital reputation one could identify if the person holds the knowledge, expertise and experience he/she claims to have and in return decide whether the establishment of a strong or weak tie with that person would be beneficial. Last but not least, van Zyl (2009), mention that to qualify to an Enterprise 2.0, organisations need to support two or more of the following modes of computermediated communication: one-to-one such as s or instant messaging, one-tomany such as blogs and web pages and many-to-many such as wikis and whiteboards. Therefore, as opposed to the traditional communication methods employed in the internet that were more top-down or in one direction, the emphasis 85

96 of these technologies is on two conversations in which the platform is open for all participants to share knowledge and opinions. McAfee (2006) mentions, particularly interesting are the social aspects that these social networking tools provide, the tools are social: In the way it is conceived bringing together connected tools around users in a networked approach In its purpose promote mutual understanding by augmenting and expanding online and offline social interaction In the way it behaves instead of forcing the user to adapt to these tools, it adapts to the user. The tools emerge as a form to facilitate under representation, expanding on human interaction, as opposed to limiting it (Bryant, 2004). Similarly, Coakes (2006) suggests that social networking tools facilitate knowledge exchange and sense-making since the tools depend mostly on social aspects of every-day organizational life, instead of technological ones. As a result, these tools facilitate the emergence and discussion of diversity of topics. Under the same light, Grudin (2006) advises that social networking tools have the potential of presenting a better alignment between informal employee knowledge exchange behaviors and digital technologies. He argues that while the current technologies may be effective in managing explicit and formal representations of knowledge, they tend to neglect the common conversational and socialization practices of employees. Grudin (2006) concludes that social networking tools offer 86

97 the potential of lifting the weight of formally expressing knowledge inside organizations through technological means. Moreover, Tredinnick (2006) suggests that the potential of innovation of social networking tools in organizations does not emerge from technological breakthroughs, instead it emerges from the potential to change the role of the social actors and constructs (for instance individuals, teams, departments). Specifically, Tredinnick (2006) draws on particular characteristics of social networking tools (such as their openness and self-organized information structures) that allow the organization to take advantage of the collective experience of users. Table 5 highlights the most popular generation of technologies relevant to social networking implemented in organisations nowadays. The description emphasises their online collaborative nature and the platform it provides for user-generated content sharing. Table 5: Enterprise 2.0 Social Networking Technologies -Source: van Zyl (2009, p.908) Technology Blogging blog) Wikis Social bookmarking (web Description Blogs are a self-publishing tool that resembles online journals where an owner can periodically post messages. Readers can subscribe to a blog, link to it, share links, post comments in an interactive format and indicate their social relationship to other bloggers who read the particular blog A wiki is a web site that allows online collaboration by allowing multiple users to add, remove or edit content and change content. It also allows linking among any number of pages Social book-marking allows users to post their lists of bookmarks or favourite web sites for other users to search and view 87

98 Tagging Tagging is the use of key words to track content on web sites. It can be used as Really simple a form of social bookmarking, where a user can gain access to all the content identified by other users and linked to the specific key word A web feed format used to publish frequently updated content. It lets users syndication (RSS) Collaborative real time editor subscribe to their favorite feeds receiving automatic updates An application that allows simultaneous editing of a text or media file by different participants on a network Amongst the most widely used technologies identified are wikis and blogs (Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008). Wikis provide opportunities for different sources to contribute to a given project, in return fostering a collaborative organisational culture. On the other hand blogs are very much established to the extent that an increasing number of Fortune 500 organisations are adopting it (Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008). The appeal of blogging is its informal nature, however it is argued that the success of blogs depend on: The relevant knowledge of those participating in the blog The freedom provided to bloggers to express their viewpoints The addition of intriguing content presented from distinct perspective The attractiveness of the writing style (Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008) Perceived Positives and Negatives of Enterprise 2.0 Van Zyl (2009) discusses the perceived positives of such technologies, firstly being the updated contact information of user maintained profiles. Individuals using these technologies can establish a global list of contact details of people that they have strong professional ties with, colleagues and co-workers. Unlike electronic 88

99 directories, the information is connected directly to the profiles created and maintained by the contact himself and the updates such as contact details, current activities, interest and expertise are done automatically and in a searchable format. Having access to this global list of contact details leads to the second perceived benefit of these technologies (Van Zyl, 2009), the ability of individuals to locate expertise, in addition it open doors to opportunities and potential business partnerships. The third perceived benefit is the increase in productivity and workflow efficiency (Van Zyl, 2009). This is attributed to different reasons: the platform these technologies provide for collective problem solving and sharing amongst peers (Brown and Duguid, 2000; Davenport, 2001; Orlikowski, 2002), the minimising of organisational resource wastage by reducing the re-invention of the wheel, fixes and solutions to problems (Brown and Duguid, 2000), the integration of different modes of computer-mediated communication (such as , instant messages, manuals, spread-sheets and presentations) into one application allows knowledge workers to aggregate information in an efficient manner by providing users with the opportunity to add labels (such as links, tags and social bookmarks) to make the information easy to retrieve and share (Brown and Duguid, 2000; Van Zyl, 2009). Finally, it is argued that synchronous or real-time communication such as telephone calls and meetings can be time consuming, interruptive and may result is decreased productivity while asynchronous or delayed communication for e.g. are either usually either misused or over used. Hence, Van Zyl (2009, p.911), argues that these technologies can assist organisations to create an online resource containing accumulated wisdom of the organisation, by allowing knowledge be codified, searched and shared. By decreasing the use of s and other disruptive 89

100 communication methods, the use of asynchronous communication methods such as blogs and wikis, can increase productivity and work flow efficiency. Another perceived benefit that Van Zyl (2009) mentions, is the increase in staff morale and motivation and she attributes this to the culture of sharing that these technologies promote in which a person feels motivated to contribute valuable information to a group of people while expecting to get useful information and assistance in return (Graham and Hall, 2004). In addition, using these technologies enable the contributions to be rewarded by rating, feedback and the gaining of followers (individuals subscribe or link to your work). In return, a digital reputation is formed one that recognises people s contributions and puts value on the individual s knowledge (Brown and Duguid, 2000). Amongst the other perceived benefits is the ability to retain and retrieve cumulative organisation knowledge and experience in a fully searchable format and the efficient use of information and communication technologies, finally, these technologies can be beneficial for effective customer relations, branding and marketing purposes (Van Zyl, 2009). Innovation and break through could be achieved through keeping a close eye on customer communication, feedback and opinion (Matuszak, 2007, Tapscott and Williams, 2006). Nonetheless, Van Zyl (2009) illustrates that in some situations these technologies can be counterproductive i.e. the same perceived positives could turn into perceived negatives. For instance instead of increasing productivity they may lead to a decrease in productivity due to employees spending too much time posting and networking in blogs and wikis. McAfee (2006) raises a similar point there is a threat that knowledge workers will either not use these technologies due to their busy, 90

101 demanding schedules or use them but they do not produce the intended outcomes. Furthermore, while user generated content could be an advantage but the reliability of this content is not guaranteed (Van Zyl, 2009). Moreover, the efficiency of these information and communication technologies is questioned in terms of the bandwidth and server required and network utilisation (Van Zyl, 2009). Issues of security, trust and privacy, knowing what, how much, when and how to share may also surface (Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008). Nonetheless, with the strikingly high adoption rate of web 2.0 technologies (e.g. 13,000 business profiles in face book) and the benefits of web 2.0 technologies, scholars argue that change is inevitable (Sinclair, 2007; McAfee, 2006; Schneckenberg, 2009; Martin et al., 2009; Paroutis and Saleh, 2009; Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008). Arguably having used web 2.0 technologies at a personal level, knowledge workers and employees are demanding applications and information system tools that are more intuitive, interactive and user-friendly. In addition, access to tools that allow easier communication and collaboration between themselves, stakeholders and customers and a greater customisation of user experience (Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008). Hence, it is argued that organisations are unable to prohibit the use of social networking technologies or turn a blind eye (Dzamic, 2009; Lavenda, 2008; Middleton, 2008). Instead, organisations need to come up with procedures and policies (Martin et al., 2009; Sinclair, 2007) in which they can tap into the benefits of enterprise 2.0 technologies without compromising issues of security and trust. This will be elaborated on in the next section. 91

102 Enterprise 2.0 Challenges and Opportunities Martin et al. (2009) emphasises the need for policies and procedures to guideline the use of these enterprise 2.0 technologies, whether they were laid out lightly such as the case of Microsoft ( do not write anything on blogs that would get you into trouble ) or in a formal manner such as the UK Government Communications Network s Review of Social Media (See appendix 1). Another example is from IBM s social computing guidelines that encourage the use of web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0 (see appendix 1). Due to the novel nature of these technologies and their recent emergence in the business environment, there is a gap in the literature in terms of standardized policies and procedures to use. However, there seems to be a consensus that for organisations to succeed in incorporating these technologies there should be some kind of guidelines (Sinclair, 2007; Martin et al., 2009). In addition to the policies and procedures, to ensure the successful implementation of these technologies there are number of factors that need to be present. The role managers should take in introducing these new set of technologies should not be under-estimated (McAfee, 2006; Schneckenberg, 2009; Martin et al., 2009; Paroutis and Saleh, 2009). While previous technologies such as s did not require managers to encourage the use of, they cannot also look into people s shoulders and tell them tag this or make a link or now blog about what you just did (McAfee, 2006). However, as easy to use and intuitive (Schneckenberg, 2009) the enterprise 2.0 technologies are, they depend profusely on the decisions and actions taken by 92

103 managers (McAfee, 2006). A study conducted by Paroutis and Saleh (2009) of key determinants of knowledge sharing using enterprise 2.0 tools revealed that the managerial role in adopting these technologies is significant. They argue that managers should be an active role in supporting enterprise 2.0 technologies, considering it as a strategic knowledge management initiative. In return communicating its benefits to employees, training and equipping them with the necessary set of skills and rewarding them for embracing them, for instance the top rated blog award or the most active blog or best wiki contribution. On a similar note, Schneckenberg (2009, p.509), identifies that there is a potential for enterprise 2.0 technologies to facilitate the process of organisational learning and knowledge exchange but that depends on the openness, freedom and employee empowerment in corporate environments. He enlists empowerment to be a key factor for corporate innovation and for the use of enterprise 2.0 technologies to enable knowledge and ideas exchange and organisational learning. The main challenge though is the managerial task of balancing those inherent process inconsistencies that evolve between top down control and bottom up empowerment in period of intense organisational change (Schneckenberg, 2009, p.517). This leads to another important factor, providing a receptive culture (McAfee, 2006) one that encourages new collaboration practices and having a common platform. For instance one large wiki is better than many unconnected ones, for a common platform encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing (McAfee, 2006). This chapter have characterised the already existing information and communication technologies for knowledge management, highlighted their positives and negatives. In addition, the latest wave of interactive knowledge management technologies, 93

104 known as social networking tools were introduced. The potential of these tools was explored and the anticipated challenges. These tools were further examined using the Abu-Dhabi Municipalities case study to increase the understanding of what these tools can offer to the knowledge management field. Research Gap, Significance and Objectives The knowledge-based view of the firm (Grant, 2002; Halawi, et al., 2005; Spender, 1996) identifies knowledge as a resource for sustainable competitive advantage (chapter 2). Therefore, many organisations are striving to find means to facilitate knowledge transfer and management (chapter 3). Information and communication technologies were identified as potential tools that can facilitate this process of knowledge transfer and integration (Alavi and Leidner, 2001; Jashapara, 2011; Fernandez et. al., 2004) (chapter 4). Nonetheless, thus far it is argued that in many instances, information and communication technologies fell short in delivering the perceived benefits (Hahn and Wang, 2009). This has often been attributed to negligence of the people dimension of knowledge management systems and solutions. Recently, with the development of the web services and tools a set of interactive tools have made their way to organisations and consequently, the knowledge management literature. Arguably, these tools rely on the human side aspects to enhance knowledge management within organisations (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009). These technologies that have manifested themselves in the form of social networking tools are increasingly being used by organisations to create, store, and share knowledge within a natural setting (Jashapara, 2011). 94

105 A review of the research conducted since the emergence of social networking tools for knowledge management reveals that most of the current research papers are conceptual or view point papers and current research emphasises what social networking is, how are they structured and why social networks exist (van Zyl, 2009). However, studies that examine the implementation of social networking tools in organisations for knowledge management and sharing are limited (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009; van Zyl, 2009). In addition, the majority of the research conducted on the value and opportunities of these tools are based upon private organisations such as: Clearswift, IBM, KPMG, Gardner and MessageLabs (van Zyl, 2009). This thesis aims to examine the implementation of social networking tools for knowledge management. It investigates how social networking tools are being applied for knowledge management and whether these tools can facilitate the process of knowledge sharing and management. In addition, the research will examine the factors that contribute to or prohibit the usage of these tools for knowledge management. The findings will be examined in light of the theoretical framework adopted as part of this study, the knowledge-based view of the firm. Implications on the academic literature and practice of knowledge management will be highlighted. The research questions that guided this research and maintained its direction are: Can social networking tools enhance the process of knowledge transfer and management? If so, how? Why do knowledge workers decide (or not) to use social networking tools for knowledge management? What factors influence their decisions? The next chapter outlines the methodology that guided this research process, the research design and how the research questions were addressed. 95

106 Chapter 5- Research Methodology and Method It has been established in earlier chapters that an organisation s ability to transfer knowledge and utilise it to implement organisational goals have been identified as important and even critical for achieving competitive advantage (Chapter 2 and 3). Nonetheless, the transfer of knowledge can be quite difficult to achieve (Chapter 2 and 3). Traditionally, organisations have been using ICTs to facilitate the diffusion and integration of knowledge. However, many organisations are not getting the full value on their investments on ICTs for KM (Chapter 4). Research (Hahn and Wang, 2009; Hislop, 2005) indicates this can be attributed to the design of ICT tools for KM. The focus has been primarily on the codifying knowledge, rather than enabling people to actively infer and construct meaning (Chapter 4). Lately, a new set of interactive technologies, taking the form of social networking tools are making their way to knowledge management. Nonetheless, our understanding of the implementation of these tools for KM and the dynamics they introduce when applied is still limited (Chapter 4). What is needed is to consider the use of information and communication technology tools which allows for interactive usage and an in-depth study of the usage of social networking tools for the capture, transfer, and integration of knowledge. As a result, two fundamental research questions emerged, firstly, how can social networking tools enable the knowledge management process? Secondly, why do knowledge workers decide (or not) to use social networking tools for knowledge management? What factors influence their decisions? 96

107 Henceforth, once I have completed the literature review and identified gaps in the literature, I had to make important decisions in terms of how to answer the research questions, the research process I need to take and how can I ensure collecting quality data to reach to credible findings. This was achieved by clearly defining the research objectives and adopting the research design that will enable me to best fulfil these objectives. My research design informed my data collection techniques and my data collection techniques informed my data analysis. I have chosen to adopt a qualitative; case-study design given the limited number of studies on social networking tools for knowledge management and the almost non-existent knowledge management literature in the UAE context. Hence, the qualitative case study design enabled rich and in-depth data to emerge. These considerations and further ones on the research foundations, processes and methods used are described in this chapter, starting with: the research philosophy governing this study, the research questions and case study research design, the unit of analysis, scope of the case, the type of the case study, case study organisation overview, data sources and collection and finally, data analysis and credibility. Research Philosophy Research philosophy describes the ontological and epistemological assumptions underlying the research approach. Ontological assumption is concerned with the nature of reality. The two main aspects of ontology in the business and management research are objectivism and subjectivism (Bryman and Bell, 2007; Saunders et al., 2009). Objectivists believe that social entities exist independently of social actors and they approach their research in the same manner. Subjectivists on the other hand, view reality as socially constructed, i.e. they believe a social phenomenon is 97

108 created from the perceptions and consequent actions of social actors (Saunders et al., 2009). Objectivists tend to focus on measuring findings while subjectivists concentrate on understanding the meaning that individuals give to a social phenomenon. Epistemological assumptions define what constitutes acceptable knowledge in the field (Bryman and Bell, 2007; Saunders et al., 2009). There are two main epistemological positions in management and business research: positivism and interpretivism (Thomas, 2011). Positivism is derived from the philosophy of science and encourages the use of natural sciences methods to the study of social reality. Positivists believe that only observable phenomena can provide credible data. Theory is used to produce hypotheses that can be tested and in return will allow explanations and evaluations (Bryman and Bell, 2007). The focus is on generalizations (Saunders et al., 2009). Interpretivism is substantially different from positivism as interpretivists believe that reality is socially constructed (subjective) as opposed to believing that reality just exists independently of social actors (objective). The focus is on the details of the situation, what is the reality behind these details and the subjective meanings and motivating actions (Saunders et al., 2009, p.119). The goal of this research is not to explain human behaviour but to understand it (Maylor and Blackmon, 2005, p.157). Constructionism is an epistemological position that shares aspects of interpretivisim, the belief that reality is socially constructed (subjective) but does not reject outright some notion of objectivity. The emphasis is on the collective construction of social phenomena (Maylor and Blackmon, 2005) and this position recognises the importance of the subjective human creation of meaning (Miller and Crabtree, 1999, 98

109 p.10). The positive of this position is the close collaboration between the researcher and the participant, allowing the participants to tell their stories (Miller and Crabtree, 1999). Whilst telling their stories the research participants are given the opportunity to describe their views of reality and this allows the researcher to better understand the participants actions (Robottom and Hart, 1993; Lather, 1992; Baxter et al., 2008). For this research purpose, I adopted a subjective ontology and a constructivist epistemology. In this case, reality is viewed as socially constructed and listening to the stories of the participants will enable me to understand the participants actions. This research position was selected given the importance of understanding the constructs and context (organisations) of the phenomenon being investigated (social networking tools for knowledge management) and the importance of understanding the meaning and interpretation research participants associated with the examined phenomenon (social networking tools for knowledge management). In addition to the flexibility this approach provided in adopting multiple research methods to understand the phenomenon. The research philosophy governs the choice of research design and methodology; these will be discussed and justified in the coming sections. Research Questions and Case Study Research Design It is important to define the research questions, design and strategies as they provide an overall framework for how the data will be collected and analysed (Bryman and Bell, 2007). The research questions that guided this research are: Can social networking tools enhance the process of knowledge transfer and management? And if so, how? 99

110 Why do knowledge workers decide (or not) to use social networking tools for knowledge management? What factors influence their decisions? This research adopted a case study research design, according to Yin (2011) a case study research design is used in four situations. Firstly, when the study aims to answer why and how questions. Secondly, a case study research design is helpful when the researcher cannot manipulate the behaviour of the participants of the study. Thirdly, the case study research design is useful when the researcher would like to consider contextual conditions as he/she believes that they are relevant to the phenomena. Finally, case study research design is used when there is no clear boundary between the context and the phenomenon and the researcher wants to focus on contemporary events as opposed to historical events. The case study research strategy was deemed to be the most suitable for case studies are particularly suitable for answering how and why questions and the aim of this study was to understand how knowledge workers perceive social networking tools for knowledge management. The study aimed to explain also why employees decide to use (or not) these social networking tools. Furthermore, since the case is the decision-making process of employees on whether to use these tools at their work premises, the case could not be considered without the context, the organisation. It would have been impossible to have a true picture of the employee decision-making process without considering the context within which it occurred. In addition, this research lends itself to the case study research design since it focussed on contemporary events. Determining the Unit of Analysis Before moving forward and when considering the research questions, it is important to consider what the unit of analysis is (Miles and Huberman, 1994). Asking the 100

111 question what do I want to analyse? and answering this questions leads to the identification of the unit of the analysis, whether it was an individual, a program, a process, an organisation or the difference between organisations (Baxter et al., 2008). Thomas (2011) uses the metaphor of a capsule with two halves to describe a case study, with the first half containing a subject (the place or person) and the other half an analytical frame or object. Each ingredient is necessary in order for the other half to work and the case is not complete without both parts in place. Wieviorka (1992, p.160) shares the same view indicating For a case to exist, we must be able to identify a characteristic unit.. This unit must be observed, but it has no meaning in itself. It is significant only if an observer. Can refer it to an analytical category or theory. It does not suffice to observe a social phenomenon, historical event, or set of behaviours in order to declare them to be cases. If you want to talk about a case, you also need the means of interpreting it or placing it in a context For instance a hospital ward on its own is not a case study; however an analysis of why it is thought to be an outstanding ward could be a case. In this research, the organisation or employees are not considered on their own, an analytical framework of the beliefs of employees towards social networking tools and their decisionmaking process on whether to use social networking tools or not were examined. It is important that the case study research questions correspond to the unit of analysis being examined (Baxter, et al., 2008; Yin, 2003). Table 6 demonstrates the link between the research questions and the case examined in this research. Case Study Research Question Do knowledge workers believe that social networking tools can enhance the knowledge management process? How? Why do knowledge workers decide (or not) to use this tool for knowledge management? What factors influence their decisions? The Unit of Analysis The beliefs of knowledge workers towards social networking tools for knowledge management The decision-making process of knowledge workers whether to use the tools or not. The factors that contribute to their decisions. Table 6: Research Question and Unit of Analysis 101

112 Scope of the Case Once the case is determined it is important to consider what the case will NOT be (Baxter, et al., 2008). One of the most common problems that occur with case study research is the tendency for researchers to try and answer a very broad question or the objectives of the study are too many to achieve on one study (Baxter et al., 2008). Several authors suggested that putting boundaries on a case will prevent this problem from occurring (Yin, 2003; Stake, 1995). Creswell (2003) suggests binding the case by time and place while Stake (1995), recommends time as well and adds activity to it. On the other hand, Miles and Huberman (1994) recommend binding the case by definition and context. Once the case is bound, the scope of the research becomes manageable. In the case of this research, established boundaries included a clear and specific definition of social networking tools, what they entailed and the knowledge-based view of the firm, shedding light on knowledge management in organisations. The period of time and activity that this research is interested in examining was the early implementation phase of the social networking tools for knowledge management and the context was limited to the case study organisation selected. Qualitative / Quantitative Case Study Once the case study research design is selected, a decision on if the case study would be quantitative, qualitative or a mix of both should be made. Case studies are known to lend themselves to both quantitative and qualitative studies. The choice of which type to choose depends on the ontological and epistemological foundations, the purpose of the research and the research questions. The case study implemented in this research is of a qualitative design, for my aim was to get an in-depth understanding of a single context and tap into the meanings 102

113 and experiences knowledge workers have identified through their use of social networking tools for knowledge management. This choice is further reflected in later sections such as the type of case study chosen and the methods used to collect the data. Determining the Type of Case Study Once established that the research questions lends itself to qualitative study and the case is determined and bound, the type of case study needs to be defined. The decision on what type of case study to adopt depends on the overall study purpose (Baxter et al., 2008). Different authors use different terms to describe the variety of case studies. Yin (2003) identifies three types of case studies exploratory, explanatory and descriptive. The decision of which case study type to select depends on if the research is looking to explore, explain or describe a phenomenon. Each of these types is defined in table 7. Case Study Type Exploratory Case Study Explanatory Case Study Descriptive Case Study Definition and Purpose This type of case study is used when there is no or little data about the observed phenomenon or when the phenomenon being observed has no clear set of outcomes (Yin, 2011). This type of case study is valuable when trying to understand why and how a phenomenon occurred. It is used to explain the presumed casual links in real-life interventions that are too complex for the survey or experiment to capture. (Yin, 2011; Baxter et al., 2008, p.547). This type of case study is used to answer the question of what is happening? or what has happened? It is used to describe a phenomenon and its real-life context (Yin, 2011). Table 7: Types of Case Study 103

114 While each of these types of research studies serve a different purpose, it is not unusual that a single research has more than one purpose (Saunders et. al 2009). Hence, a single research can start as an exploratory research and then as the research develops expands to an explanatory or descriptive research (Bryman and Bell, 2007) or a single research can be both descriptive and explanatory (Saunders et. al 2009). The phenomenon of social networking tools for knowledge management could be examined in an exploratory, explanatory and descriptive manner. For instance an exploratory study could be conducted to examine what are the outcomes of introducing a new wiki to facilitate knowledge sharing in an organisation. This would be a vital first step before deciding whether to embrace the wiki social networking platform or not. An explanatory study on the other hand would focus on why and how the wiki platform had worked (or not). Lastly, a descriptive study would describe the wiki platform when applied in real-life context. In this research, the exploratory and explanatory research purposes deemed the most suitable. It started as an exploratory study and then eventually as an explanatory study as the research developed. This research lent itself to exploratory research since the number of studies addressing social networking tools for knowledge management is limited (Van Zyl, 2009) and the objective is to seek new insights on how could social networking tools enable the knowledge management process. Moreover, an exploratory study was adopted given that the context of this study is a government organisation and the number of studies examining social networking tools for knowledge management in a government context is few (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009). In addition, none of these studies are based on a UAE 104

115 government organisation. Henceforth, this study will enable the assessment of the phenomena in a new light. This study has also adopted an explanatory case study approach; this type of case study is useful in assessing how an intervention is working and why. The methodology verifies whether there are problems and if modifications are needed in the intervention, and attempts to explain the causal effects found. In essence, this research attempted to explain the effect of applying social networking tools for knowledge management from a knowledge worker perspective and why did they decide (or not) to use these tools for knowledge management. The explanatory case study deemed to be suitable in this research for very few studies are published to explain the causal link in a real-life context (Paroutis and Saleh, 2009) as opposed to the many descriptive studies that have identified what social networks are, why they exist and how they are structured (van Zyl, 2009; Schneckenberg, 2009; Levy, 2009). This study aimed to explain the dynamics of applying web technologies for knowledge management. Hence, this research aimed to fill this gap in the literature and in return contribute to the knowledge management body of knowledge. Single or Multiple Case Study Designs Once the case has been identified and the specific type of case study is determined, it is important to consider the design of the case study, whether a single case study is most effective to better understand a phenomenon or a multiple case study (Yin, 2011; Baxter et al., 2008). Yin (2003) identifies four different types of case study design: single-case (holistic), single-case (embedded), multiple-case (holistic), multiple-case(embedded). See figure 5 below. 105

116 Figure 5: Basic Types of Designs for a Case Study The choice of which case study design to adopt depends on the purpose of the research. Yin (2003) provides five rationales for the use of a single case study design: 1. When the case represents the critical case in testing a well-formulated theory: This was a single case study contributes to knowledge and theory building. Single case studies can assist in refocusing future research in a whole field. 2. When the case exemplifies an extreme or a unique case: This way a single case study sheds light on an unusual phenomenon and opens doors for future research in the area. 3. When the case is a typical case: This way the lessons learned from these cases are believed to be informative about the experiences of the average 106

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